More than 1,140,100 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 66,400 have died, according to a New York Times database. More than 1,000 additional deaths have been announced every day since April 2.
Case numbers spike in Midwestern meatpacking cities
Across the Midwest and Great Plains, production at meatpacking plants and other food processing centers has slowed or stopped because of large outbreaks, including one at a Smithfield facility in South Dakota that sickened more than 1,000 people.
The Times has identified more than 40 food processing facilities across the country with coronavirus outbreaks. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at 4,900 meat and poultry processing workers had been infected across 19 states, and at least 20 had died.
Some companies, including Tyson and Smithfield, have refused to answer even basic questions about the size of their outbreaks. And in some places, state and local health officials have also been silent. In Kansas, state officials said there were 544 meatpacking-related cases spread across six clusters, but they refused to name those facilities. In Dakota County, Neb., where case numbers have exploded in recent days and where Tyson closed a plant for cleaning, the county health department has declined to give that information. The Nebraska National Guard has been testing workers at that facility.
Small metro areas with large meatpacking industries are seeing some of the country’s highest rates of growth in cases. In the county that includes Green Bay, Wis., where there are outbreaks at three meatpacking facilities, cases more than tripled over 10 days. In St. Joseph, Mo., more than 350 workers and their close contacts have tested positive. And in Cass County, Ind., where large numbers of Tyson workers fell ill, the number of known cases surged from roughly 50 to more than 1,200 over two weeks. Around half of the roughly 1,900 employees tested at that facility had the coronavirus, Indiana officials said.
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