NEW ORLEANS – A COVID-19 outbreak in the seafood industry has caught statewide attention. About 100 crawfish farmworkers tested positive for the virus in at least three farms in the Acadiana area.
“This is the first large cluster of individuals in worksites that we’ve experienced in our region”
The Regional Medical Director for the Office of Public Health in Acadina, Dr. Tina Stefanski told WGNO.
The Louisiana Department of Health did not release the names of the farms as they’re conducting an active and protected investigation. However, it is believed that the workers were living dormitory style which may have been the cause for the rapid spread.
“A concern of ours has been and remains with congregate settings. So people who either live or work in very close quarters.”
Since this pandemic, crawfish prices have dropped – now 50 to 80 cents less per pound. The Health Department says, if the spread continues, crawfish farms could shut down which would severely effect the industry.
“It’s gonna be a huge shortage and it can happen quick! It’d devastate it for sure” Owner of Westbank Seafood, Keith Bernard said. “There’s no machine in the world that can peel a crawfish tail. That’s all done by manual labor.”
There’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from one human to another through food. “So, crawfish are safe to eat. There’s been no change there.”
To minimize outbreaks like this, health leaders have a plan.
“Educating the public, businesses, increasing additional access to testing is really kind of the core components of our response at this point” said Dr. Stefanski.
If you think a business or workplace may be in jeopardy of a coronavirus outbreak, call 3-1-1.