New data from the federal government shows that thousands of U.S. workers in meat processing plants have been infected with the coronavirus of whom 20 have died. According to a news report, nearly half a million people work in the nation’s meat processing plants. So far, we’ve seen that crowded, unsanitary conditions have prompted concerns about worker safety, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that as of April 27, nearly 4,913 meat and poultry plant workers in 115 plants across 19 states have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 20 people had died. Researchers found that in the 17 states that provided data on how many workers were employed at the affected facilities, 3% or more than 130,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19.
National Meat Supply Threatened
The report points out that the total number of infections is likely an undercount as the report notes some states that had coronavirus cases in the meat industry did not provide or share data. Testing also varies by state, which could affect how many infected workers are identified. In Colorado, five workers have died, which was a quarter of all deaths included in the report.
Researchers recommend that this heightened risk in the meat and poultry industry requires prompt action in order to not only protect workers but also to preserve facility function and maintain the food supply. This CDC report comes the same week President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep meat processing plants open to try to stave off meat shortages and maintain the food supply chain in the United States.
More than 20 meatpacking plants have shut down in recent weeks as concerns increased over the risk of infections and deaths. Safety experts have made recommendations that meat processors should take several steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in order to preserve the function of this critical infrastructure industry including cleaning and physical distancing measures.
As the nation prepares to gradually open up businesses, workers’ safety should be protected. If you suspect that your employer is not taking adequate measures to protect you, it is important that you contact the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and an experienced California employment attorney who can help protect your rights. If you have contracted the coronavirus as a result of your employer’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, and pain and suffering.