39% of Hall County COVID-19 cases traced back to JBS packing plant

The Central District Health Department announced at 39% of the cases in Hall County can be...
The Central District Health Department announced at 39% of the cases in Hall County can be connected to the JBS meat packing plant. (KSNB)(KSNB)
Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 6:19 PM CDT
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The Central District Health Department announced Tuesday that 39% of the Hall County COVID-19 cases can be traced back to the JBS meat packing plant.

On April 3, JBS reported having 10 workers who were COVID-19 positive. Over the last couple weeks over 200 people are now infected in relation to the plant.

Some of those cases are workers and the rest are people who have come in contact with someone at the plant, like family members. On Monday, JBS shared they are upping their protective measures and will be offering more pay for those who can come into work. The Central District Health Department said it will be a couple weeks before the number of cases will show if those measures have worked to reduce the infection at the plant since the incubation period for the virus is 2-14 days.

“I know someone with DHHS is coming to visit with them at the site of the plant [Tuesday] and they're going around to all of the packing plants to visit with them to see what their needs may be. What we haven't looked at yet is the number of cases proportionately by week,” Health Director Teresa Anderson said.

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele said he plans to reach out to Governor Pete Ricketts to discuss possible changes to the Directed Health Measures or other ways to help reduce the spread in the area and if closing the meat packing plant is an option.

“It might be helpful but we might also be past that point. You have to understand that anybody involved in the food supply is considered an essential worker under federal rules so they are expected to stay open because all of us have to eat even though most of us try to stay home,” Mayor Steele said.

Governor Ricketts said in his daily press conference that he would not be asking JBS to close. Stating they are an important service to provide food.

Mayor Steele said he does not have the power to close a business or industry. But he urges people to wear face masks, send one person to shop, and to stay home if possible to help flatten the curve.

JBS did not respond for comment.