Coronavirus outbreaks continue to climb at U.S. meatpacking plants

USA Today reported that meat production rebounded after the President’s order to near pre-coronavirus levels.  However, the number of coronavirus cases tied to meatpacking plants is topping 20,400 infections across 216 plants in 33 states, and 74 people dead. That is despite widespread implementation of protective measures like temperature checks, plastic barriers, and social distancing meant to curb the virus’ spread inside the plants. Tyson Foods, for example, provided face masks to all employees and installing barriers between workers. However, since the announcement, 24 of its plants have reported outbreaks, including two in Iowa that sickened more than 800 workers total. Smithfield Foods installed barriers, adding more hand sanitizing stations and "enhancing cleaning and disinfection" at its facilities. Since then, 11 of its plants have reported outbreaks. Public health agencies face potential litigation if they try to close the plants. But many agreed that state and local health officials retain the authority to close them. Major companies like Smithfield and Tyson have largely improved their workspaces, smaller plants that employ a few dozen workers, and have more limited resources have not. But the industry’s continued inability to prevent the spread of the virus points to the ineffectiveness of those guidelines. The only real way to prevent transmission would require really significantly slowing down and reconfiguring the way these plants operate, spacing out workers in a way that the companies are not willing to do. @

 Coronavirus outbreaks climb at U.S. meatpacking plants despite protections, Trump order
Coronavirus outbreaks climb at U.S. meatpacking plants despite protections, Trump order

The meatpacking industry ramped up production, scaled back closures and tried to return to normal even as outbreaks at plants continue to soar.

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