COVID-19 Outbreaks: Disease Strikes Bravest Interns in the World

The occupational health office at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley.
The occupational health office at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley. Photo by Michael Roberts
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's latest update about COVID-19 outbreaks in the state includes 22 new entries, including the third associated with the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley.

This round, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the JBS summer internship program, whose participants surely qualify as the bravest in the world, given hundreds of positive cases and multiple worker deaths that generated grim media coverage nationwide for the massive firm's Colorado operation.

The CDPHE considers a facility an outbreak after two or more COVID-19 cases among residents, staffers or the like are confirmed within a fourteen-day period, or two or more cases of respiratory illness with an onset of symptoms within a fourteen-day period are paired with at least one additional COVID-19 diagnosis.

The 22 freshly identified outbreaks in the analysis made public on July 8 fall just short of the 25 reported on July 1 — the largest number in more than a month. But it's certainly on the high end of weekly tallies since the state's first report on the subject, released on April 15, and more evidence that Colorado's curve isn't flattening at this point. As of July 8, the CDPHE's outbreak total is 384. More than half are tagged "resolved," including two on the new list — further evidence that the agency is working more quickly to contain such scenarios and prevent additional spread.

The main JBS facility in Greeley currently registers 287 staff cases of the novel coronavirus and six deaths among those on the payroll. Also stricken were the JBS corporate offices, which show five positive staff cases and one probable employee infection. The CDPHE report reveals that now six members of the internship program have COVID-19, too.

According to the JBS website, "Our world-class summer Internship Program runs from June to August and provides challenging, hands-on work experience in either a production or corporate business department. Interns will have the opportunity to work on meaningful projects that develop individual skills and knowledge base and impact the business in a meaningful way."

The page doesn't mention negatives of the sort catalogued by the CDPHE.

Of the 21 other new outbreaks, several are tied to medical facilities: an OBGYN center in Adams County, a dental office in Summit County, a dialysis specialist in Boulder County and a women's clinic in Larimer County. Others include the Douglas County Parks and Trails Division, several restaurants and assisted living centers, and Splash Swim School in Fort Collins.

Here are the latest additions, complete with the date when the outbreak was identified:
1. Arps LLC/Creede Hotel & Restaurant, Active, Hotel/lodge/resort, Mineral County, 7/6/2020, 2 positive staff cases
2. Centennial Health Care Center (020317), Active, Healthcare, skilled nursing facility, Weld County, 7/2/2020, 8 positive resident cases, 6 positive staff cases, 1 probable staff case
3. Colorado OBGYN Partners dba The Women's Health Group, Active, Healthcare, other, OBGYN Clinic, Adams County, 7/7/2020, 6 positive staff cases
4. Colorado Pac Co., Active, Other, Produce Wholesale Warehouse, Denver County, 7/7/2020, 6 positive staff cases
5. Douglas County Parks and Trails Division, Active, Office/indoor workspace, Douglas, 7/7/2020, 4 positive staff cases
6. Earth Tech West II, Ltd., Active, Office/indoor workspace,  San Miguel County, 6/24/2020, 9 positive staff cases, 7 probable staff cases
7, Friday Health Plans, Active, Office/indoor workspace, Alamosa County, 6/10/2020, 12 positive staff cases, 2 probable staff cases
8. Greenways Landscape Services, Active, Other, Landscaping, Adams County, 7/2/2020, 8 positive staff cases
9. Innovative Dental, Active, Healthcare, other, Dental Office, Summit County, 7/2/2020, 2 positive staff cases
10. JBS Summer Internship Program, Active, Other, Educational Program, Weld County, 7/3/2020, 6 positive staff cases
11. Kidney Center of Longmont, Active, Healthcare, dialysis, Boulder County, 7/7/2020, 2 positive staff cases
12. Kip's Grill, Active, Restaurant sit-down, Mineral County, 7/2/2020, 3 positive staff cases, 5 probable staff cases
13. Legacy Village of Castle Pines, LLC (23O530), Active, Healthcare, assisted living residence, Douglas County, 7/7/2020, 7 positive resident cases, 1 positive staff case
14. Medallion Post Acute Rehabilitation (020582), Active, Healthcare, other, Rehab and Senior Living, El Paso County, 7/6/2020, 2 positive resident cases, 3 probable resident cases, 7 positive staff cases, 5 probable staff cases
15. Oberon House (2304C7), Active, Healthcare, assisted living residence, Jefferson County, 7/7/2020, 1 positive resident case, 1 resident death, 1 positive staff case
16. Pueblo Viejo Family Mexican Restaurant, Active, Restaurant sit-down, Larimer County, 7/2/2020, 3 positive staff cases
17. Splash Swim School and Pool Services Inc., Active, Pool/water park, Larimer County, 6/26/2020, 2 positive staff cases, 1 positive attendee case
18. The Women's Clinic of Northern Colorado, Active, Healthcare, outpatient, Larimer County, 6/30/2020, 2 positive staff cases
19. Tile Art Granite Fabrication Shop, Active, Other, Workplace, no store front, in homes, La Plata County, 7/6/2020, 2 positive staff cases, 1 probable staff case
20. Villagio of Broomfield (23Z321), Resolved, 6/30/2020, Healthcare, assisted living residence, Jefferson County, 5/16/20, 2 positive resident cases, 1 resident death, 5 positive staff cases, 2 probable staff cases
21. West Pines-Senior Behavioral Health, Resolved 6/30/2020, Healthcare, other, Inpatient psychiatry, Jefferson County, 5/11/2020, 8 positive resident cases, 1 probable resident case, 1 resident death, 12 positive staff cases
22. White House Pizza/Pepperoni Pizza Kitchen, Active, Restaurant sit-down, Garfield County, 6/30/2020, 3 positive staff cases
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts