Coronavirus: Cases at Worthington pork plant continue to rise

Nobles County is becoming one of the Minnesota's major hotspots.
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JBS Pork

The number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Nobles County, where health officials are dealing with an outbreak at a Worthington pork plant.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, there had been 36 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the southwestern Minnesota county, with this information made public on Saturday morning.

And late Saturday, the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed to BMTN it's now received 20 confirmed positive cases from employees at the JBS USA plant.

The latest COVID-19 numbers for Nobles County will be updated at 11 a.m. Sunday, and the MDH says that while some of the 20 cases have already been included in the figures, others will be added in today's count.

It means that Nobles County is fast becoming the most serious hotspot in Minnesota. The rise in confirmed cases this week now puts it second in the state on cases per capita behind Martin County, which had one of the state's earliest outbreaks.

Here's MPR News reporter David Montgomery's chart:

The JBS USA plant is continuing its operations despite the outbreak, with Gov. Tim Walz saying Friday that an MDH team has been deployed to the plant, which employs roughly 2,000 workers and is the state's largest pork production facility.

Walz said it's possible that the virus was quickly spread because there is an overlap in employees and families at both the JBS plant and the Smithfield Foods plant, about 60 miles away in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where there has been a major cluster outbreak and has since shut down.

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