The Potluck

Nobles County has Minnesota’s highest COVID-19 case rate amid pork plant outbreak

By: - April 20, 2020 3:22 pm
JBS pork processing plant in Worthington

The JBS pork processing plant in Worthington, Minn. is one of the largest employers and has long drawn immigrants and refugees to this southwestern Minnesota town. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer

Nobles County, home to a JBS pork plant with an outbreak of COVID-19 among workers, has the highest number of cases per capita in Minnesota, with 34.5 cases per 10,000 residents.

The county has a population of just over 22,000 and 76 confirmed cases as of April 20, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. JBS announced Monday that it would indefinitely close the plant in Worthington after at least 26 employees tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Martin County has the second-highest case rate, with 20.6 per 10,000 residents. Four Martin County residents have died. Officials aren’t sure why the rural county became a COVID-19 hotspot, but Minnesota’s health officials are increasingly grappling with spread of the disease in Minnesota’s least populated counties.

In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, Minnesota’s most populous, the numbers of cases per capita are much lower. Hennepin has 7.7 cases per 10,000 residents; Ramsey County has 3.6 cases per 10,000 residents.

Due to limited testing, county totals aren’t representative of everyone who has or has had COVID-19.

As of April 20, there were nearly 2,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. One-hundred-forty-three people have died, and 1,202 have recovered. For more information about COVID-19 in Minnesota, check out Minnesota Reformer’s daily data tracker.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.