So, let me get this right, the President orders meat processing plants to open and a Governor orders to withhold information about COVID illnesses in those same plants.
From the CDC as of May 1: COVID-19 cases among U.S. workers in 115 meat and poultry processing facilities were reported by 19 states. Among approximately 130,000 workers at these facilities, 4,913 cases and 20 deaths occurred. Factors potentially affecting risk for infection include difficulties with workplace physical distancing and hygiene and crowded living and transportation conditions.
Now the Nebraska News Channel reports that hours before workers at a Nebraska City food processing plant were informed of prevalence of COVID-19 in the workplace, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced that state health workers will no longer be able to report COVID-19 data from meat processing plants.
Grant Brueggemann of the Southeast District Health Department says he expects county-by-county cases to still be reported, but not specific data on food processors.
The Southeast District has previously reported seven cases within its boundaries and has not indicated a workplace for any of them.
Elkhorn Logan Valley Health Director Gina Uhing had provided updates on the Tyson plant in Madison, Neb. Her final report indicated 220 cases. Public Health Solutions’ last report prior to the governor’s order said the Smithfield Plant in Crete had seen 139 positive cases.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that the state won’t be releasing specific numbers of cases at meatpacking plants, saying it’s a matter of privacy.
President Trump has classified U.S. meat plants as critical infrastructure. The President’s order prevents local health agencies from closing plants down.