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article imageCDC releases COVID-19 data on America's meat processing plants

By Karen Graham     Jul 9, 2020 in Health
At least 17,000 meat and poultry processing facility workers in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19, the vast majority being racial and ethnic minorities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on Tuesday.
Among 23 states reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in meat and poultry processing facilities, 16,233 cases in 239 facilities occurred, including 86 (0.5 percent) COVID-19–related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the 9,919 cases where race and ethnicity information were reported, 87 percent were minorities.
This data is disturbing to read, yet what is more disturbing is that only 28 out of 50 states responded to the CDC's request for data relating to COVID-19. What is published only reinforces alarms raised as meat and chicken facilities and their surrounding communities have become COVID-19 hot spots, while deaths among workers has risen, according to NBC News.
"About 56 percent were Hispanic, 19 percent were Black, 13 percent were white and 12 percent were Asian, “suggesting Hispanic and Asian workers might be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in this workplace setting,” the authors of the report wrote.
The states with the largest number of COVID-19 outbreaks at meat processing facilities included Nebraska, Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota, all reporting more than 1,000 cases among workers, reports The Hill.
The CDC report also found that only 37 percent of the facilities where COVID-19 infections were found offered testing to their employees. Only 22 percent closed their facilities temporarily, while 21 percent reduced the number of meats being processed during the outbreak.
According to the CDC, "the animal slaughtering and processing industry employ an estimated 525,000 workers in approximately 3,500 facilities nationwide." The CDC also notes that their results might not be representative of all U.S. meat and poultry processing facilities and workers due to the small number of responses the agency received.
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