The coronavirus spread at more than twice the national rate in U.S. counties with major meatpacking plants in the first week after President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing that they be reopened.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases jumped 40% during the week following the order in counties with major beef or pork slaughterhouses, compared with a 19% rise nationally, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The counties accounted for 10% of new confirmed cases from April 28 to May 5 while representing just 7.5% of the U.S. population.
Infections climbed even faster where slaughterhouses were outside major population centers, and may have a greater impact. The disparity underscores the extent to which the areas around meat processors -- many located in rural regions far away from initial hot spots -- have become epicenters of the virus. The data doesn’t address other types of industrial facilities that may be in those counties.