Nearly 5,000 Meat Processing Workers Infected by COVID-19
According to figures released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that at least 20 U.S. meatpacking workers have died and nearly 5,000 have been infected with the coronavirus across 19 states, since the pandemic began.
Cases of the disease, caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, were reported between April 9 and 27, the CDC said, and account for roughly 3 percent of all workers at the impacted facilities. To date, 20 of the workers have died from the virus.
The figures released by the CDC reflect similar data put out earlier this week by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents the majority of beef and pork workers and a large share of those in poultry.
To combat potential shortages, President Donald Trump earlier this week signed an executive order under the Defense Production Act, ordering meat processing facilities to remain open during the pandemic to try to stave off shortages of chicken, pork and beef and maintain the food supply chain in the U.S..
I think one of the questions, and we don’t have an answer, is — what will be the impact on the food supply? Dr. Leonard Marcus, co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said on a conference call with reporters this week.
“If those rural areas were not as careful about the physical distancing, were not as quick jumping into areas where there were cases,” he said, “what’s that going to mean nationally in terms of the food chain?”