The Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General is initiating an audit of USDA actions that may have contributed to the spread of the COVID-19 in meat processing facilities. The USDA OIG initiated the audit in response to Senator Michael Bennet’s request, a Colorado Democrat, who asked for an investigation last August. Bennet says high infection rates early in the pandemic at meat processing plants raise “serious questions about any federal actions that may have contributed to the spread of the virus.”
The USDA OIG investigation will address Bennet’s specific concerns in his August letter, including inquiries into USDA actions following the executive order that invoked the Defense Production Act. USDA will also review department actions taken to communicate the federal government’s authority, standards, and expectations with State Departments of Health and USDA actions to ensure inspectors’ health and safety and protocols in response to COVID-19 positive tests at meat processing facilities.