Cases of coronavirus infection are continuing to soar in meat and poultry plants, leaving workers afraid despite safety measures instituted by the industry.
Georgia, the nation’s largest poultry-producing state, has seen a record surge, and cases are also increasing in Arkansas, Alabama and North Carolina, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Meat and poultry plants have been hotspots for COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak, with more than 32,000 infections to date and 123 deaths, according to the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Production is now returning to normal levels, and companies say they have safeguards in place that include temperature scanning and safety equipment.
However, union officials and others say that as production is ramped back up, line speeds are staying the same, requiring workers to stand close together on production lines. Crowded working conditions are a major factor in plants becoming infection centers.
The unions say their members are still afraid to come to work. The head of a union that represents poultry plant employees estimates that 30% of those members continue to stay home because of that fear.