LOGAN, Utah A(BC4 News) – A large increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Utah has been linked to an ongoing outbreak at a local meat processing facility in Cache County, according to Bear River Health District.

Officials confirmed 439 new cases in Utah, 198 of which came from Cache County after mass testing events were held over the past week where 1,300 tests were completed.

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“One out of every three of these new cases are from the Bear River Health District, and many of those are tied to an ongoing outbreak we have been investigating at a local meat processing facility,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, UDOH state epidemiologist. “Many of the workers at this facility match the demographics of who we know are at the highest risk for infection. I expect to see additional cases of COVID-19 identified as part of this outbreak, both at the worksite and in the community.”

The first of the mass testing results came in late Thursday evening, due to a delay from state and private labs in their ability to run the tests. Officials said the delay in testing may result in an increase in positive cases in the coming week.

Bear River Health Department does not have the ability to run tests but has multiple disease investigation teams locally and from around the state working to investigate and communicate with each positive case and conduct contact tracing.

The health department said they are making every effort to get ahead of the outbreak and reduce the spread of COVID-19, but stated their resources are strained.

“As the health department continues to investigate this outbreak, we ask the residents of our
community to remain diligent. We plead with you to maintain physical distancing when possible, wear a face covering when physical distancing is difficult, stay home when you are sick, and wash your hands often,” said Lloyd Berentzen, Health Director, Bear River Health Department. “We appreciate all our communities have done and the sacrifices they have made.”

Additional investigators have been brought in through the Utah National Guard, local health departments, and a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.