Food Companies Blamed in California COVID Outbreak

July 31, 2020
COVID-19 cases are disproportionately affecting Latino residents in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere in California.

COVID-19 cases are disproportionately affecting Latino residents in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere in California, and food processing operations are partly to blame, according to local health officials.

Three food processing companies in Los Angeles County were shut down on July 26, although all three have since reopened. One of them is Mission Foods, two of whose employees recently died from COVID-19.

California is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 cases that is falling especially hard on the state’s Latino population. According to statistics reported in the Los Angeles Times, Latinos make up 39% of the state’s population but suffer 56% of infections and 46% of deaths.

County health officials say the outbreak is being exacerbated at food plants and agricultural operations, where workers sometimes have to spend long periods in close quarters. They accused the three companies that shut down this week of not following a county directive to report any occurrence of three or more cases.

The daughter of a 67-year-old Mission Foods employee who died of coronavirus told the Times the company had disclosed in May that a single worker got sick, but did not reveal any of the subsequent cases. “He would say ‘I’m hearing rumblings that so and so has it,’ but nothing official was ever said to him,” she said.

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