One Worker Dead, More Than 200 Infected As Coronavirus Hits KY Meatpackers

With hog prices dropping, will these little piggies go to market?

This is breaking news; this article will be updated.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health has confirmed 220 employees at meatpacking plants across Kentucky have tested positive for the coronavirus, with one employee death related to the virus in Louisville.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman Susan Dunlap in an email Monday afternoon said the Beshear administration is aware of cases and one death at four meatpacking plants in the state:

  • JBS USA, Jefferson County (34 positive employees; 1 employee death)
  • Perdue Farms, Ohio County (110 positive employees)
  • Tyson Foods (Lake Cumberland), Lincoln County (2 positive employees)
  • Tyson Foods (Green River), Henderson County (74 positive employees)

This follows confirmed coronavirus outbreaks in west Kentucky at a Perdue Farms plant in Cromwell, Kentucky (Ohio County), and a Tyson Foods plant in Robards, Kentucky (Henderson County). The Ohio Valley Resource reported that as of April 23, there were 62 cases at the Tyson Foods plant and 19 cases at the Perdue Farms plant.

Dunlap also said the Tyson Foods plant in Henderson County is closing from April 30 through May 3 “for a deep clean and to make adjustments that will allow for better social distancing.”

Worker safety advocates in the Ohio Valley in the past have expressed concern regarding the potential of virus spread in meatpacking plants due to the tight quarters these workers operate in.

Dunlap also said the Department for Public Health has been in contact with the Tyson Foods facility in Henderson County and the Perdue Farms plant in Ohio County. Talks with the plant leadership have included details of positive cases, social distancing strategies, leave policies, efforts to support workers who test positive, and addressing the fears of workers coming into the plant.