The Rest of the Story: What’s the Deal with Meatpacking and #COVID19

Artist’s rendition of Coronavirus

The snippet below is only a sliver of the story. RTWT.

I heard on local radio a few days ago that 82% of the meat in the U.S. food system is processed by only four companies, two of which are Brazilian-owned.


So what is it about these places that makes them such dangerous incubators for the novel coronavirus? It’s a question that urgently needs answers, especially now that concerns over food shortages and an order given on April 28 by President Donald Trump classifying meat processors as critical infrastructure are already forcing workers back to the production line. Like most aspects of the pandemic, this one, too, is complicated by a dearth of data. Figuring out how exactly the disease is spreading between workers and which slaughterhouse practices are to blame is going to take time and lots of epidemiological legwork. But there are some clues.

According to the CDC’s latest report, the chief risks to meatpackers come from being in prolonged close proximity to other workers. A thousand people might work a single eight-hour shift, standing shoulder to shoulder as carcasses whiz by on hooks or conveyor belts. Often, workers get only a second or two to complete their task before the next hunk of meat arrives. The frenzied pace and grueling physical demands of breaking down so many dead animals can make people breathe hard and have difficulty keeping masks properly positioned on their faces. To allow for social distancing, the agency recommended that meat processors slow down production lines to require fewer workers, and that they stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in a facility at one time.

Source: Why Meatpacking Plants Have Become Covid-19 Hot Spots | WIRED

Steve Parker, M.D.

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3 responses to “The Rest of the Story: What’s the Deal with Meatpacking and #COVID19

  1. Pingback: The Rest of the Story: What’s the Deal with Meatpacking and #COVID19 –

  2. I also read that they use a lot of blowing air to keep yucky stuff from landing on the meat.

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting, Jen. I’ve never been to an abattoir. I’ve driven by some and note they have a distinctive smell. YouTube probably has tours of slaughterhouses.