COVID Keeps Slamming Food Labor Force

July 1, 2020
The coronavirus continues to ravage the food industry, and the curve shows no sign of flattening.

The coronavirus continues to ravage the food industry, even as some metropolitan areas are beginning to open up, and the curve shows no sign of flattening.

According to an ongoing tally by the Food & Environment Reporting Network, as of July 1, 262 meatpacking and 101 food processing facilities have had cases of COVID-19. The infection count for meat and poultry plant workers stands at 30,497, and for workers in other food & beverage processing plants, 3,263. The death toll has reached 113 for meat plant workers and 12 for other processing workers. The organization says the true count is probably higher, due to under-reporting and other irregularities.

“The ongoing spread of Covid-19 among food-sector workers has contributed to rising infection rates in many rural communities, even as major metropolitan areas see the virus’ spread abating,” the Food & Environment Reporting Network said in a statement on its website. Rural communities with meatpacking plants have seen infection rates five times higher than the national average.

The states with the highest occurrences of meatpacking-related COVID-19 cases were Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas; for other food processing, Colorado and Washington.

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