THURSDAY, July 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) — COVID-19 was confirmed in 16,233 workers in 239 meat and poultry processing facilities in 23 states through May 31, 2020, according to research published in the July 7 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Michelle A. Waltenburg, D.V.M., from the CDC COVID-19 Emergency Response, and colleagues provided updated aggregate data regarding the number of meat and poultry processing facilities affected by COVID-19 and the number of confirmed cases and deaths among workers.

The researchers found that through May 31, 2020, aggregate data on confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths were identified and reported for 239 affected facilities in 23 states. COVID-19 was confirmed in 16,233 workers, and there were 86 COVID-19-related deaths. COVID-19 was diagnosed in 9.1 percent of workers among 14 states reporting the total number of workers in affected meat and poultry processing facilities. Eighty-seven percent of 9,919 cases in 21 states that reported race/ethnicity occurred in racial- and ethnic-minority workers. Implementing worker temperature or symptom screening and COVID-19 education, mandating face coverings, adding hand hygiene stations, and adding physical barriers between workers were commonly reported interventions and prevention efforts at facilities.

“High population-density workplace settings such as meat and poultry processing facilities present ongoing challenges to preventing and reducing the risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 transmission,” the authors write. “Collaborative implementation of interventions and prevention efforts, which might include comprehensive testing strategies, could help reduce COVID-19-associated occupational risk.”

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