HYRUM, Utah (ABC4 News) – A new report confirms one person is dead and 441 employees were infected after the COVID-19 outbreak at the JBS meat-packing plant in Hyrum. That new case count is nearly one hundred more people than what was originally reported.
According to a report done by the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division, or OSHA, as of June 16, one employee at JBS died due to the virus, the finalized number of infected employees is 441. There are 1,495 workers at this plant.
“Our understanding is OSHA did a virtual type of inspection,” said Joshua Greer of the Bear River Health Department.
Just a month ago, the Bear River Health Department told ABC4 News, the case count was in the 300s.
“As we saw that report and as we started looking into those numbers a bit, we actually discovered while we were investigating the JBS outbreak, there were a number of employees that work there, that actually live down in the Ogden area,” said Greer.
Joshua Greer says the Bear River Health Department case count is different because they found many employees live in Ogden, under the Weber-Morgan Health Department’s district. That department conducted it’s own separate investigation.
“With this OSHA report, they listed a death that came with this outbreak, and this is something we weren’t aware of, until we saw in the report, because again, it came from someone in the Weber-Morgan area,” said Greer.
Greer says due to a lack of communication, there was a discrepancy in the case count.
“There are probably some things that we’ve learned since then, that we could do better and absolutely have better ability to coordinate with other health departments, the state health department and make sure that we’re all on the same page,” he added.
ABC4 previously reported on employees stating they continued to work with fear of retaliation from the company, but the OSHA report states there isn’t enough evidence that JBS in Hyrum caused any employee to work after a positive case.
“They’re scared to lose their job and that’s the problem, they just scared,” said one employee in an anonymous interview.
The report also states the company implemented protective measures before the outbreak. No fines have been issued to JBS in Hyrum.
JBS USA provided ABC4 with this statement:
“The team member who passed away was a faithful employee and friend who worked at our Hyrum beef facility. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and to everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19.
The company provided life insurance plus additional compensation to the family.
We have done everything possible to both protect and support our team members during this challenging time. We have adopted hundreds of safety interventions, provided increased pay and rewarded team members with bonuses. We are also conducting random, routine surveillance testing of asymptomatic team members to ensure our preventive measures remain effective as the pandemic continues.
We have been very clear from the beginning of this pandemic that we do not want sick team members coming to work. At the Hyrum plant, we have an extensive health screening process that all team members have to complete every day before entering the facility. If a team member tests positive for COVID-19, they receive short-term disability pay and benefits for up to 26 weeks.”