Fact check: How many meatpackers and health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19?

Fact check: How many meatpackers and health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19?

The claim: 5,000 meatpackers have tested positive for COVID-19, but not 5,000 doctors or nurses

As stay-at-home orders expire and states across the U.S. begin to reopen, businesses and workers are weighing whether or not to participate.

Throughout the duration of the shutdowns, essential workers – including nurses, doctors and grocery-store employees – continued to work, putting them at a higher risk of contracting the new coronavirus.

While businesses and workers are taking precautions to help mitigate the spread of the virus, some industries, including meatpacking, have been hit hard by outbreaks.

Social media posts have contributed to the spread of misinformation about the number of cases and deaths within industries.

As outbreaks in meatpacking plants make national headlines, misinformation and theories surrounding the outbreaks have been circulating on social media.


Coronavirus cases in the health care and meatpacking industries

Health care workers on the front lines of battling COVID-19 have direct or indirect exposure to infected patients or materials every day.

As of April 9, nearly 9,300 health care workers in the U.S. had been infected with the coronavirus, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, officials emphasized that the actual count is likely much higher, because the report's count was only drawn from 16% of the country's coronavirus cases. Additionally, in the states that tracked cases most closely, health care workers accounted for about 11% of them.

In this May 8, 2020, file photo, registered nurse Katie Hammond, left, works with another nurse on a patient in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Harborview Medical Center, in Seattle.

A May 8 report from the CDC found that, by late April, about 4,900 workers at 115 packing facilities had been infected with COVID-19. Factors influencing the spread of the virus within these plants may include "difficulties with workplace physical distancing and hygiene and crowded living and transportation conditions," according to the CDC.

The report stated that the findings are subject to certain limitations, including variations in testing and states reporting, meaning that there are likely other cases in the meatpacking industry that have not been included in the count.

Outbreaks within meatpacking plants have had a national impact, causing a 40% reduction in pork slaughter capacity, a 25% reduction in beef slaughter capacity, and at least 30 plants have closed in the last two months, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

In an effort to stabilize the supply chain, President Donald Trump issued an executive order in late April that re-opened 14 meatpacking plants. The order was met with pushback from UFCW International President Marc Perrone, who urged the government to prioritize safety measures.

Our rating: False

We rate the claim in the post FALSE because it is not supported by our research. While there has been a significant amount of coronavirus cases in meatpacking facilities, the statement that 5,000 meatpackers have been infected but not 5,000 nurses and doctors is incorrect.

As of April 9, nearly 9,300 health care workers had been infected with the coronavirus and as of late April, about 4,900 meatpackers had tested positive for the virus, according to the CDC.

Additionally, the actual count of coronavirus cases among health care workers is likely much higher, because thecount in the CDC's report was only drawn from 16% of the country's cases. States that tracked the coronavirus more closely found that health care workers accounted for about 11% of cases.

Our fact-check sources:

CDC, Characteristics of Health Care Personnel with COVID-19 — United States, February 12–April 9, 2020CDC, COVID-19 Among Workers in Meat and Poultry Processing Facilities ― 19 States, April 2020USDA, America’s Meatpacking Facilities Practicing Safe Reopening to Ensure a Stable Food Supply

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/05/18/fact-check-more-meatpackers-than-doctors-nurses-have-covid-19/3098162001/

News Related


Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »