Meatpackers Close a Few Plants due to Coronavirus

Fears of meatpacker employees contracting coronavirus due to the close conditions they work in have led to several facilities idling production in recent weeks. For example, Tyson Foods has temporarily ceased operations at its pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, after two dozen employees were found positive with the coronavirus. Politico says at least three people who work in Tyson plants, as well as JBS USA, have died from the virus. However, there aren’t a large number of operations that have temporarily shuttered production or even scaled back. The CEO of JBS says he’s “100 percent confident” that his employees are safe at a beef plant in Greely, Colorado. However, a longtime employee died after being hospitalized with the virus. The major meatpacking companies all say they’ve taken appropriate steps to abide by CDC recommended guidelines. The food industry has been deemed “essential” and continues to function amid the pandemic. “As employees have tested positive for COVID-19, the industry has been working with local health authorities and the Food Safety and Inspection Service to take immediate steps to quarantine, sanitize facilities, and prioritize the health and safety employees,” says Sarah Little, VP of Communications for the North American Meat Institute.