Hamilton County reports 11 COVID-19 cases at Chattanooga meat processing plant

Cages of chickens arrive on a flatbed trailer at the Koch Foods chicken processing plant in Chattanooga on Wednesday. An animal rights group is accusing the plant of inhumane treatment of chickens.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 now linked to the Koch Foods meat processing plant, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger announced Thursday.

The increase at the workplace came the previous few days as Hamilton County experienced a spike in cases, with three of the largest single-day rises in the past 10 days.

The Pilgrim's Pride meat processing plant was linked to one case of the coronavirus on May 11, but there are no new cases there as of Thursday, Coppinger said.

The county reported an additional 16 new cases on Thursday, for a total of 326, including 95 recovered and 131 active cases. More than three weeks have passed since a COVID-19-related death in the county.

Hamilton County Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes said the recent increases are linked to workplaces that did not shut down and spread among families. The increase was not related to the county's recent public health policies easing restrictions that were designed to stem the spread of the virus, she said.

(READ MORE: One Chattanooga ZIP code now has 1 out of 6 of the city's coronavirus cases)

As well as the recent announcement of testing for senior citizens living in Chattanooga Housing Authority facilities, the health department announced several new testing initiatives on Thursday, including testing at Eastwood Manor on May 19, at the Avondale YFD Center on May 20 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., at Emma Wheeler Homes between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and at Greenwood Terrace on May 22 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Residents from surrounding housing facilities are encouraged to be tested at Greenwood Terrace, Barnes said.

Contact Wyatt Massey at wmassey@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass.