State health officials still not releasing information on COVID-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — In the last week, the number of COVID-19 cases at meat processing plants has doubled.

There are now nearly 1,000 cases from 20 outbreaks at plants in 12 counties across our state. But the state is still not releasing the names of the plants involved or the number of cases each of them has.

“It’s very concerning,” a meat packing employee said.

This man works at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Sanford. The company, one of the largest chicken producers in the country, has a COVID-19 outbreak at this location.

“It’s not safe, it’s really not safe,” he said.

He asked that we not show his face or give his name out of fear he could lose his job.

He’s one of several workers CBS 17 spoke with who are frustrated the company isn’t providing them with more information. They believe they have a right to know how many of their fellow employees are sick and what departments they work in.

“My wife is someone that has heart problems, breathing problems. So to bring that home,” he explained.

CBS 17 reached out to the company, the Lee County Health Department, elected representatives, and the state. No one would tell us how many cases they’re dealing with.

“These are also private business organizations as you well know. So we are working closely to provide them as we will to many businesses will provide help and technical assistance,” Dr. Mandy Cohen, the Secretary of DHHS said.

That was the first time, Cohen was asked about outbreaks at meatpacking plants at Wednesday’s press conference.

This her response the second time.

“We’ve been doing our assistance to make sure that they are complying with our infection control protocols,” she said.

And the third time, she seemed to answer more directly.

“As I look around to other states in terms of displaying these kinds of information I could only find one other state that had that kind of information. But I hear you. Everyone wants more and more information and so stay tuned for more information about that,” Cohen said.

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