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Coronavirus outbreak closes southern Indiana poultry plant

Farbest Foods had the nearly 600 workers at its Huntingburg plant tested on Friday and the company was working to notify healthy employees on when to return.

INDIANAPOLIS — About 100 workers at a southern Indiana poultry processing plant have tested positive for the coronavirus in an outbreak that has it closed until at least Wednesday.

Fourteen more Indiana residents have died from coronavirus illnesses, pushing the state’s death toll from confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 closer to 1,800, state health officials said Monday.


Farbest Foods had the nearly 600 workers at its Huntingburg plant tested on Friday and the company was working Monday and Tuesday to notify healthy employees on when to return, said Ted Seger, president of the Jasper-based company.

Farbest’s Huntingburg plant is at least the fourth Indiana meat or poultry processing plant that has faced outbreaks of COVID-19 among its workforce similar to others in the industry across the country.

The worst such outbreak in Indiana has been at a Tyson pork-processing plant in Logansport, which was closed for nearly two weeks and tests confirmed COVID-19 infections among nearly 900 of the plant’s 2,200 employees, the company said. Smaller outbreaks happened at Indiana Packers Corp. in Delphi and Miller Poultry in Orland.

Seger said in a statement that tests confirmed 101 of the Farbest workers as infected with COVID-19 but without symptoms, while 23 tests were pending verification.

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The Farbest cases have fueled 91 new confirmed coronavirus infections since Friday that have more than doubled the total number of cases to 161 in DuBois County, where the plant is located, according to Monday’s state health department update.

State health crews have been monitoring cleaning work at the plant ahead of its reopening, said Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said company and local officials have been “working hand in glove with us to make sure we are able to contain that spread.”

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