Active environmental surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Midwestern United States meatpacking plants

Suzanna M Storms, James F Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This pilot project investigated environmental SARS-CoV-2 presence in seven Midwestern meatpacking plants from May 2020 to January 2021. This study investigated social distancing and infection control practices and incorporated environmental sampling of surfaces and air in employee common areas. All plants increased their social distancing efforts, increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting worker areas, and screened for symptomatic people to prevent entry into the workplace. 575 samples from common areas were collected and evaluated with RT-qPCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. 42/367 surface samples were positive, while no virus was detected in air samples. Case positive data from the counties surrounding each plant showed peak positive SARS-CoV-2 cases from 12-55 days before the virus was detected in the plant, indicating that environmental sampling is likely a lagging indicator of community and plant infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0261704
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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