Nearly half of all new Utah COVID-19 cases tied to Cache Valley meat plant

State officials have announced that drive-thru COVID-19 testing will be offered at the Hyrum Senior Center from noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 3. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

LOGAN – Friday case counts reported by the Utah Department of Health, which includes an alarming 439 new cases from yesterday, reflect a significant increase in the spread of COVID-19 in the state and Utah epidemiologist Angela Dunn put the focus on the northern end of the state.

Among Friday’s 439 new statewide cases, 198 of them were found in the Bear River Health District. That means 45 percent of all new COVID-19 cases in the Friday report came from northern Utah.

“(T)hese new cases are from the Bear River Health District,” said Dr. Dunn, “and many of those are tied to an ongoing outbreak we have been investigating at a local meat processing facility. Many of the workers at this facility match the demographics of who we know are at the highest risk for infection. I expect to see additional cases of COVID-19 identified as part of this outbreak, both at the worksite and in the community.”

According to a BRHD statement, their staff is making every effort to get ahead of this outbreak and reduce the spread of COVID-19, but resources are strained. Additional investigators have been recruited through the Utah National Guard, local health departments throughout the state, and a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC team will be located at Bear River Health Department to provide technical assistance, industry assistance, and investigation support.

“As the health department continues to investigate this outbreak, we ask the residents of our community to remain diligent. We plead with you to maintain physical distancing when possible, wear
a face covering when physical distancing is difficult, stay home when you are sick, and wash your hands often,” said Lloyd Berentzen, Health Director, Bear River Health Department. “We appreciate all our communities have done and the sacrifices they have made.”

Also, a new order issued Friday by Gov. Gary Herbert assures Utah’s current risk levels from COVID-19 will remain in effect for now. His decree extends the state’s health guidance at “yellow” through June 12.

The caseload for the Bear River Health District has grown to 561. Positives from Cache County account for 514 of the total cases with 47 from Box Elder County and none from Rich County.

Also, 474 of the district’s 561 cases have been between 18-60 years old. There are 14 patients from the entire district currently hospitalized.

The updated Utah Department of Health’s total positive COVID-19 caseload stands at 11,252, a daily rate increase of 4.1 percent from yesterday. With yesterday’s 439 cases in the state it’s been nine straight days of 200 or more positives reported.

With 4,690 tests administered yesterday, 232,197 Utahns have been tested and the rate of positives for the last two and a half months is 4.8 percent.

There have been 120 total COVID-19 deaths, three more than yesterday. All three were Salt Lake County residents, two males between the ages of 60-85, (both were hospitalized at the time of death) and a female older than 85 who was a long term care facility resident.

There are 6,788 of Utah’s total COVID-19 cases that are considered “recovered.”

There were 20 more hospitalizations yesterday, 114 positive cases are now hospitalized, and the total COVID-19 hospitalizations the last two and a half months in Utah is 870.

Thursday’s Idaho report shows 3,054 confirmed COVID-19 cases and still 83 deaths. The Franklin County caseload remains at seven. There are still no cases in Bear Lake and Oneida counties.

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  • Dean June 5, 2020 at 3:37 pm Reply

    Very interesting that the Bear River Health Department removed the graph show the racial demographics from their website 2 days ago.
    For all of use that live in the south end of the valley for decades, know as Dr Dunn states “workers at this facility match the demographics of who we know are at the highest risk for infection”

    I see this demographic in Walmart all the time no masks.

    • Anna Sherlock June 5, 2020 at 4:41 pm Reply

      Awesome! I see people of all demographics without masks but it’s exciting that you’ve been able to narrow the problem down to a race. You’re a gem!

      • Free Bird June 5, 2020 at 7:26 pm Reply

        Here we go with the racists garbage. JBS used to be Swift Meat, which was raided by the border patrol, and pretty much put them out of business. A few years back the police actually started informing these employers that it was against the law to hire illegal aliens. One only has to look around to see these practices have ended, at the expense of the tax paying citizens.
        Maybe we can make a go fund me link to have a beautiful new Border Patrol Office, built right here in Cache Valley to keep these employers honest, (nobody else will)

        • American citizen June 6, 2020 at 10:57 pm Reply

          All the “illegal immigrants “, you say your tax money is going to are the ones feeding you and your family sir!! They work hard regardless of the conditions and if they are getting infected by this virus it’s because of white privileged morons like you who don’t give a crap about anyone but yourself! Your white people are the ones to run scared when the going gets tough! As an American I am embarrassed that a person like you loves among us! Think before you decide to comment. Get your facts straight!!

      • I’m not racist but... June 5, 2020 at 8:16 pm Reply

        Man you can really just feel the racism in that comment. Like enough that you can tell they really wanted to use a racial slur but refrained because although they’ve never actually faced adversity other than by their limited cognitive abilities, they still feel marginalized and see themselves the victims of a “leftist PC society” that’s been overrun by the liberal fake media. I would feel bad for them and how little self esteem they must have to be so bigoted, but it’s pretty obvious that they are bottom feeding, hate filled scum that deserve no sympathy.

    • Truth June 6, 2020 at 8:50 am Reply

      Says the deplorable white piece of trash…

    • Nobody June 6, 2020 at 8:54 am Reply

      Says the deplorable white trash…

    • Allyson June 6, 2020 at 6:11 pm Reply

      I have noticed many Latinos wearing masks at Sam’s Club, Lee’s Marketplace and Al’s Sporting Goods. Most of the people I see not wearing masks are white males. Hopefully everyone can start wearing masks to ensure spread is reduced.

  • Dpitcher June 5, 2020 at 6:35 pm Reply

    Ummmm. So when it was 15 people none of us could go to work and we couldn’t go to restaurants. But now everyone’s out and about and nobody’s doing anything? How does this make sense? It’s spreading like wildfire know where in cache County.

  • Sue Shoemaker June 5, 2020 at 7:11 pm Reply

    Thank you Ann Sherlock!!

  • J.L. June 5, 2020 at 7:32 pm Reply

    It’s hard to “work from home” when he president signs executive orders forcing these plants to work regardless of unsafe conditions and then people like Mr. Dean are quick to point out demographics … good one buddy.

  • Laura Paskett June 5, 2020 at 8:24 pm Reply

    We win! Logan is the highest in the nation for “percentage growth in new daily cases!” Please, wear a mask, any kind of face covering will help slow this down. Help us stay safe.

  • Paul June 6, 2020 at 7:08 am Reply

    There will definitely be many more cases of the virus in Cache Valley. The plant is running at less than half their normal speed. Which means that fewer than 50% of the employees are showing up to work. The plant made face masks and face shields mandatory for everyone in the facility. These safety measures have obviously failed to do anything but give people pseudo security. It was inevitable that an outbreak would occur, however serious it is or isn’t, is a different story. Over 1400 people work at this particular JBS plant giving plenty of opportunity for any sickness to spread uncontrollably.
    The health department went in and tested every employee last Saturday and most of the results are not available yet. It will be at least nine days from the time the tests were administered to the time the majority of the results will be released. If the health department is so serious about containing the the virus they would have had results faster or even shut the plant down.
    After all this JBS is still planning on running Monday morning like normal.

  • Anonymous June 6, 2020 at 7:31 am Reply

    What does anyone expect when they test their employees and then send them back to work, basically making the tests pointless? JBS needs to be shut down if they can’t do any better than that.

  • Itzel June 6, 2020 at 8:55 am Reply

    It’s highly disturbing that JBS refuses to shut down production when the numbers of Covid among their workers are staggering. Greed is a terrible thing and it’s going to cost lives, hope they realize this sooner rather than later.

  • Meat Eater Bob June 6, 2020 at 3:44 pm Reply

    Can we all agree to finally shut that place down forever.

  • Maryce June 6, 2020 at 9:25 pm Reply

    This is very upsetting for me, as I currently reside in Los Angeles County (Whittier) to be exact, and we’re selling our house and moving back to Logan to be with kids and grandkids. We have well over 78,000 cases of Covid19 and well over 4,800 deaths. Have any of you not learned from New York and Los Angeles, to cover up your face and hands? This virus kills and does not discriminate- you are someone’s child, someone’s parent, someone’s friend, YOUR LIFE MATTER’S. Stop letting your children run around without protective wear.
    I am high risk- I love my children and grandchildren. You MATTER, so stop walking around in the clouds and take this virus seriously. Covid 19 does not discriminate.

    • CA Pierce June 7, 2020 at 7:56 pm Reply

      According to NYTimes website, Utah has been consistently ahead of California (not by much) in Covid-19 cases per capita. Deaths, however, have been considerably lower than CA.

  • Ralph Malph June 7, 2020 at 1:47 pm Reply

    How is it racist to identify the 189 new cases as Hispanic? Do we not deserve to know who to avoid until they’re no longer contagious? The phony racism crowd would rather those 189 be among whites, but they aren’t. Pure stupdity.

  • Carl Howlett June 7, 2020 at 5:13 pm Reply

    Given that communicable disease is a legitimate concern of all Cache Valley residents I was disappointed by Mr. Hislop’s decision to not identify the plant by name nor explain the steps to be taken to control the out brake as well as the schedule for their implementation. We as Cache Valley residents have a deserved critical need for this information. Protection of out of state owners’ interest should be of no concern when it comes to health.

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