100 New COVID-19 Cases Reported at Three Louisiana Crawfish Farms
May 19 2020

100 New COVID-19 Cases Reported at Three Louisiana Crawfish Farms

By: Sofia Gomez Alonso

According to The Advocate (Baton Rouge), Governor John Bel Edwards announced this past Monday that 100 new cases of COVID-19 were reported at three crawfish farms in the state. Since the announcement Monday, the Louisiana Health Department has refused to name the three sites where the outbreaks were reported. Assistant Health Secretary Alex Billoux commented that the workers in the farms are housed in dormitory-like settings and that a large portion of them come from migrant backgrounds. According to a report done by the The AgCenter at Louisiana State University in 2018, 1,630 people in the state were working in the seafood industry on H-2B visas. Employers of workers with H-2B visas usually provide housing accommodations within their worksites.

The first outbreak identified by the state led to a second round of testing on asymptomatic individuals, which revealed new cases in two other farms in the Acadiana region of the state. Spokeswoman Aly Neel said that the Louisiana Health Department is actively working with the workers to prevent and monitor the spread of the virus in the worksites.

The newly reported COVID-19 cases in crawfish farms across the state follow Governor John Bel Edwards's encouragement in April to "purchase seafood that was caught in Louisiana by Louisiana fishermen or packaged and produced here." Following the outbreak of cases, the state has encouraged mass testing in sites housing large groups of people, such as nursing homes and prisons.

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