With more than 100 COVID-19 cases, Nobles County now has biggest outbreak per capita in Minnesota

The expanse of JBS pork processing plant sits at the northeast corner of Worthington, Minn., September 4, 2019. (Photo by Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post) (Courtney Perry/For the Washington Post/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Nobles County, home to the JBS pork plant in Worthington, Minnesota, now has 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. On April 22, the county reported its first death.

Nobles County has an estimated population of 22,000, which means there are 4.6 positive coronavirus cases per 1,000 residents, by far the biggest outbreak per capita in Minnesota. 

By comparison, Hennepin County has 10 times as many COVID-19 cases—1,013—but those cases are spread across 1.27 million people—58 times as big a population as Nobles County. 


On Monday, JBS USA announced the indefinite closure of its pork production facility in Worthington due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the plant. The Worthington plant is the largest pork production facility in the state.

Of the first 41 investigations MDH had completed in Nobles County as of Monday, 33 are employees of JBS pork plant and another six are family members of JBS workers.

All of the plant’s 2,000 workers are being an offered a test for the coronavirus, but the Minnesota Department of Health says the challenge has been getting workers to come forward and get one. Health officials are looking for community assistance to explain that getting a test is “not punitive,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said Monday.