Story at a glance

  • Meatpacking plants have been tied to some clusters of coronavirus cases.
  • In Nebraska, more than a thousand workers at such plants have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The governor has stopped reporting data from each of the plants, although some local officials and companies have released case numbers.

More than a thousand coronavirus cases in Nebraska have been tied to local meatpacking plants, said Gov. Pete Ricketts during a press conference on May 7 — nearly 1 out of every 6 cases reported in the state.


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Then, Ricketts said state health officials would not share how many workers had been infected at each plant in the state. While local health departments can still reveal those numbers, the governor recommends they only share data after verifying and obtaining permission from the plants themselves. 

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“What we found is some people will go and say they work for facilities and have tested positive when they don’t work for that facility,” he said. “Some people maybe tested positive and they won’t tell you they work for that facility.”


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The major companies in the meatpacking industry weren’t reporting the numbers independently either, reported the Washington Post on May 12. Since then, Tyson and the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department have announced testing results for a plant in Madison, Neb., where 212 workers have tested positive for COVID-19. The company, which has eight plants in the state, said in a press release they would release data for other facilities as well. 

Some of the biggest clusters of coronavirus cases in the United States have been tied to meatpacking plants, including a Tysons plant in Waterloo, Iowa, where the New York Times reports 1,031 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and the Smithfield facility in Sioux Falls, S.D., just across the border from Nebraska, where 1,095 cases have been confirmed. 


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Published on May 13, 2020