Why meatpacking plants have become coronavirus hot spots

“The working conditions in meatpacking plants create a perfect storm for coronavirus transmission. Workers are unable to maintain the recommended 6 feet of distance on the processing floor, and they breathe heavily while hauling cuts of meat, possibly spreading virus particles in the cold air.

Companies that own these plants have sought to implement temperature checks and social distancing measures in common spaces outside the processing floor, as well as administer additional protective equipment. But it’s also possible that the virus is spreading outside the plants themselves, as low-wage, mostly immigrant workers live in crowded conditions and commute via public transit.

Consumers are seeing the effects at the grocery store and fast food restaurants. Meat and pork prices have jumped at least 3percent. And while America isn’t at risk of running out of food generally, there have been spot shortages of meat such that some retailers, including Costco and Kroger, have started limiting the number of meat items that customers can purchase.” 

“The phenomenon isn’t isolated to the US: There have been coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants worldwide, including CanadaSpainIrelandBrazil, and Australia. Clearly, there is something inherent to the meatpacking industry that has made it a breeding ground for the coronavirus.” 


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