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LA County reports COVID-19 spike at meat plants

A small group of activists stage a protest outside a Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, Calif., on Thursday. Outbreaks of COVID-19 have struck nine industrial facilities in Vernon, including Farmer John. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
A small group of activists stage a protest outside a Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, Calif., on Thursday. Outbreaks of COVID-19 have struck nine industrial facilities in Vernon, including Farmer John. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

May 25 (UPI) -- Los Angeles County health officials said they're investigating outbreaks of coronavirus at nine industrial facilities, including five meat processing plants.

The city of Vernon reported the largest outbreak at Farmer John, a meat processing plant owned by Smithfield. Farmer John is known for producing Dodger Dogs, which are served Dodger Stadium.

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Of the facility's 1,837 employees, 153 have tested positive for COVID-19, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said. Of those who tested positive, 41 returned to work.

Public health officials tested employees at Farmer John and eight other facilities between March and May. Multiple employees also tested positive at CLW, Via De France Yamazaki Inc., Cal Farms Meat Company, Takaokaya USA Inc., F. Gavina & Sons Inc., Golden West Trading, Overhill Farms, and Rose and Shore.

"We are closely monitoring outbreaks within facilities in the City of Vernon, as many of the employees reside in adjacent southeast Los Angeles communities," said Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health. "We have assigned an infectious disease doctor to work closely with the Vernon health director on response and mitigation plans, and we are engaging in comprehensive contact tracing protocols to ensure that close contacts are identified and isolation and quarantine orders are issued, to keep employees and their families safe."

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Los Angeles County has confirmed nearly 45,000 COVID-19 cases, about one per 224 people, with 2,100 deaths, or one in 4,800 people.

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