Around 100 people at three crawfish farms in the Acadiana region have tested positive for the new coronavirus, state health officials said Monday, the first workplace clusters announced by the state since the outbreak began.

The Louisiana Department of Health declined to name the three crawfish farms, citing “active, evolving, protected investigations.”

Dr. Alex Billioux, assistant secretary of the state’s Office of Public Health, said the outbreaks were at least in part among migrant workers living in dormitory-like settings. The seafood industry has long hired laborers from other countries to work at crawfish farms and other facilities in the state.

“LDH is declining to name these private businesses,” spokeswoman Aly Neel said. “We will continue to work with them to prevent further spread of this illness and to ensure workers understand where and when to be tested.”

Following federal guidance, Louisiana recently began encouraging mass testing for coronavirus at congregant settings like nursing homes and prisons after initially recommending against testing people without symptoms.

The first outbreak discovered by the state led to a broader testing of asymptomatic people, Billioux said. Later, two other crawfish farms were found to have cases.

The Acadiana region has recently experienced an increase in new coronavirus cases and the Louisiana Department of Health said it is monitoring the increase and said it is due to the worksite outbreaks.


Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com