COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in U.S. meatpacking counties

Tina L. Saitone, K. Aleks Schaefer, Daniel P. Scheitrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In this paper, we investigate the extent to which the presence of a large meatpacking (i.e., beef, pork, and broiler chicken) plant has affected county-level COVID-19 transmission dynamics. We find that—within 150 days after emergence of COVID-19 in a given county—the presence of a large beef packing facility increases per capita infection rates by 110%, relative to comparable counties without meatpacking plants. Large pork and chicken processing facilities increase transmission rates by 160% and 20%, respectively. While the presence of this type of industrial agricultural facility is shown to exacerbate initial disease transmission affecting large numbers of individuals in the community, over time daily case rates converge such that rates observed in meatpacking- and non-meatpacking counties become similar. In aggregate, results suggest that 334 thousand COVID-19 infections are attributable to meatpacking plants in the U.S. with associated mortality and morbidity costs totaling more than $11.2 billion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102072
JournalFood Policy
StatePublished - May 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Computational model robustness
  • Meatpacking
  • Rural development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in U.S. meatpacking counties'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this