Coronavirus and the Inhumane Treatment of Meat Packers | Common Dreams Views
The food production industry, especially meat processing facilities, rely on intensive temperature control to keep the manufacturing operation running smoothly. While environmental restrictions prevent bacterial disease and other issues while processing meat, it also tends to keep facilities cold and damp. With the spread of COVID-19, meat workers packed into tight spaces in cold conditions was the perfect climate for disaster.
The impact on US meat facilities is more severe than other countries, especially compared to facilities in Europe. The meat industry in the US is highly centralized, with large processing plants and less automation. This makes infectious diseases harder to control and makes it difficult to recover from significant outbreaks.
COVID-19 infection rates in US counties with large meat processing plants are 75 percent higher than other counties. The impact of the novel virus on rural communities is compounded with the socioeconomic limitations that many meat workers face. Worker conditions may be poor, and many individuals simply lack the luxury of choosing to stay home from work if they feel unsafe. High infection rates ravaged plants because workers had no choice but to remain – protected or unprotected.