Outbreaks linked to meat packing plants

April 21, 2020

In recent days, a growing number of COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to meat packing plants across the Midwest. We’re tracking requests to 2-1-1s from these communities, but it’s still too early to reliably detect potential effects. To understand what might lie ahead for residents in these counties, we revisited Minnehaha County, SD where the number of daily calls to 2-1-1 increased 1400% after an outbreak at a meatpacking plant in Sioux Falls in late March. We detailed the social impact of COVID-19 in Minnehaha County in an earlier report. In today’s analysis we compared weekly requests for housing, food and healthcare assistance in Minnehaha County to the rest of South Dakota (without Minnehaha) for 10 consecutive weeks, 5 before and 5 after COVID-19 became a pandemic. Two main findings emerged. First, requests in Minnehaha peaked later that the rest of the state. Second, requests for food and healthcare in Minnehaha are still increasing, while elsewhere in the state they have been declining for several weeks. We are interested to see if this pattern repeats in some of the 17 counties in IA, MI, MN, NE, WI and PA now dealing with meat packing related outbreaks.

Contributors:  Rachel Garg, Balaji Golla, Matthew Kreuter