A coronavirus outbreak among workers at the Smithfield meatpacking plant in Crete has spread to employees of Universal Cold Storage in Lincoln, interim Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez said Thursday.
Contact tracers have identified 31 cases associated with Universal Cold Storage, including 24 employees and seven of their close contacts, she said.
Investigations revealed many of the Universal Cold Storage workers who contracted COVID-19 are relatives or close contacts with Smithfield workers, Lopez said.
To date, 319 of Lancaster County’s 1,135 coronavirus cases stem directly from the Smithfield outbreak in Crete. Nearly 500 cases have been confirmed in Saline County.
Locally, contact tracers have identified two more cases each associated with Smithfield’s Lincoln plant and the Smart Chicken plant in Waverly, and both now have 27 total cases, Lopez said.
On Thursday, Lincoln hospitals cared for 35 COVID-19 patients, including 23 from Lancaster County. Twelve of the patients required ventilators.
While 15 new cases were reported Thursday, the county’s rate of positive tests remained at 7.8%, which is lower than the state average.
Lancaster County did not record any new deaths from the virus Thursday, and the local death toll remained at nine.