The coronavirus outbreak has hit workers in the food processing industry hard, with meatpacking plants reporting explosions in coronavirus cases. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a Smithfield Foods pork processing plant closed down after nearly 240 workers tested positive — representing over half the active COVID-19 cases in the state. One hundred thirty workers at a Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Pennsylvania tested positive for COVID-19, with many others calling in sick.
Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, a union steward at the JBS Beef slaughterhouse died last Friday of a coronavirus infection. Deaths of slaughterhouse workers have also been reported in Georgia and Colorado. Many meat processing facilities employ large numbers of immigrants, including undocumented workers. Smithfield’s CEO warned the pandemic is pushing U.S. meat supplies “perilously close to the edge”.