Data: Monmouth Smithfield plant had 188 cases


By Jane Carlson for the Review Atlas (IL)

Oct 13, 2020


MONMOUTH — Though only three COVID-19 cases at Monmouth’s Smithfield Foods pork-processing plant were ever made public, newly obtained state data show 188 cases at the facility over time.


The data obtained by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting revealed 188 cases attributed to the Monmouth plant from April through Sept. 30, along with seven probable cases. It is not known if there are any active cases at the plant at this time.


According to the data, Monmouth’s Smithfield plant had the second largest outbreak at an Illinois meatpacking facility. The largest outbreak in the state was at the Tyson Foods plant in Joslin, which made its 202 cases public.


Prepared by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the internal data was obtained as part of an open-records request by the Midwest Center and Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation. It provides detailed information and case counts for around 2,600 outbreaks in Illinois.


In a statement to the Midwest Center, Smithfield said that due to its safety measures, less than 1% of all its employees had contracted COVID-19. The measures to keep employees safe during the coronavirus pandemic have cost more than $500 million, the company said.


If all 188 cases attributed to the Monmouth plant in the state’s data were employees, however, more than 11% of the 1,700 Monmouth employees have contracted COVID-19, according to the state’s figures.


Three cases at the Monmouth plant were made public on April 17 in a release from the Warren County Health Department. Those cases included two residents of Rock Island County and one resident of Warren County, according to the health department.


After the initial disclosure of those cases, neither Smithfield Foods nor local public health officials have said how many people at the Monmouth plant contracted the virus...