Currently, more than 11,000 cases of coronavirus in the country connected with companies Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS, writes the Washington Post. Meat industry the US is trying to get back to normal, but the workers still get sick, so the meat shortage in the country could get worse.
Tyson Foods, the largest meat processing plant in the United States, has transformed its power across the country since then, as many of his employees got sick COVID-19. The company has established health posts in place, the employees were checked on the subject of fever in the beginning of the shift that required the use of personal protective accessories, installed plastic walls between jobs and took other measures to slow the spread of the virus. Despite these efforts, the number of employees with the coronavirus increased from 1600 to 7000 extra just for a month.
What happened to Tyson — and, in General, in the meat industry shows how difficult it is to return the nation to normal life even in such important areas as food industry. Meat companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars on measures such as protective equipment, paid vacation and ventilation system, was forced to close dozens of factories which were among the main hot spots COVID-19 outside urban areas.
But the industry continues to be a surge of cases, and some companies are limited in their ability to separate workers from each other. Only part of the labour force returned to their duties, and the supply of meat in the country remains very tense, especially with the start of BBQ season.
The may report CoBank, focused on serving rural America, warns that the supply of meat in the grocery stores can be reduced by 35%, prices may skyrocket by 20%, and the consequences can become even “more acute this year”.
Grocery stores have been able to partially meet customer demand, thanks to the meat, already in the supply chain in March, when the pandemic broke out, but the report stated that these supplies were quickly exhausted. The long-term shortage is increasing debate about whether the industry to open faster or should prioritize security, even at the expense of the food supply in the country.
By order dated April 28, encouraging the opening of meat plants, the administration, trump said that the need to balance between the need to undertake the supply of food and the maintenance of security in the country. For the month, more than half of the top 30 meat processing plants that have closed because of the coronavirus, reopened.
“Our goal is to make her goal, — said Vice-President of Pensions at the meeting with the Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds in early may. — First, is the safety and health of the workforce in our meat plants and, secondly, the creation of a stable food reserves and putting people back to work.”
But others say that safety should be a priority — and that the industry is still a long way to go before the objects will again be safe.
“Absolutely, certainly, no one life cannot be sacrificed in order to I got a cheap Burger,” he told Yahoo News former us Vice-President Joe Biden, the presumptive presidential candidate of the Democrats.
Officials of the meat processing enterprises say they are doing everything possible to protect the workers, while trying to provide a reliable supply of the country’s food supply.
“The safety of our team members is paramount, and we re-open our facilities only when we believe that this can be done safely,” said Gary Mickelson, Director of media relations of the company Tyson.
It is obvious that the efforts of the industry, although able to reduce the spread of the virus, still no closer to stopping the pandemic. Last month, the number of infections associated with the three largest meat processing companies in the country — Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS, according to the analysis of Post has increased from just over 3,000 to more than 11,000.
According to the Center for investigations in the Midwest, the number of deaths among workers increased three times, from 17 to 63 people, at least. On the 4 plants that were reopened, we have witnessed outbreaks of the disease, with more than 700 cases were reported at Tyson Foods in Logansport, Indiana; in Perry, Iowa and Waterloo, Iowa; and at the Smithfield plant in Sioux falls, South Dakota.
In Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota cases of the coronavirus associated with employees of the meat industry, are 18%, 20% and 29% of the total in these States, respectively (according to the Environmental working group, a nonprofit human rights organization).
Many newly discovered plants work with reduced capacity or because of the small load, or due to the reduction of the number of workers per shift introduced to ensure social distancing. Closing jobs affected 45,000 people, according to the International Union of food and commercial industry.
In JBS, the second largest processor of meat in the United States, said that paying workers that may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 (about 10%), that they remained at home.
Discussion on the re-opening, even in a safer environment can become a difficult choice.
Meat plants are usually located in rural areas, where they are among the largest employers. According to the Working group on the protection of the environment, the prevalence of coronavirus infection in human settlements in a radius of 15 miles from the meat factories 2 times higher than the national average.
The recent closure has affected the local economy, as farmers who supply animals to the factories, there is no place to put them. According to the National pork producers Council, the current production capacity to create reserves of 170 000 pigs a day.
“These pigs will eventually stay on the farms for too long and become too large to be able to take the plants. According to estimates, it is necessary to euthanize up to 10 069 000 market hogs” — said in a recent newsletter the group of pork producers.
Opinions about the safety of split
Although the company and try to get back to normal, trade Union and local officials are wondering whether they are ready for this actually.
The largest pork factory Tyson in Waterloo was opened on 7 may, with new precautions and policies of social exclusion. It was the same day when public health officials in the district of black hawk, where the factory is located, reported that more than 1,000 employees out of 2,700 people tested positive tests for coronavirus. A member of the house of representatives Races Smith of Waterloo called the work of the plant this outbreak “appalling”.
Smith and a member of the house of representatives Timi brown-powers said they suspect that the presidential trump has prompted Tyson to resume work faster, which caused controversy in the company. The plant closed April 22 after several weeks of resistance to the calls of local officials. Lawmakers said that may 1, they met with the Director of personnel, and they reported that before the opening of the facility in a few weeks. After 4 days, they said, they said that production resumed on 7 may. There was no explanation of the new schedule, so brown-powers explained that “pressure from above”.
Federal push to open
Announcing the Executive order of April 28, trump said that he will solve the “problem of responsibility” for companies and force them to remain open during a pandemic.
In practice, the order was more narrow, according to lawyers. He identified the meat producers as critical infrastructure and ordered them to follow the Federal guidelines of the Centers for control and disease prevention and Management for safety and health at work. It also allowed the head of the Department of agriculture Sonny Perdue to take steps to obtain Federal contracts with meat companies and access to safety equipment.
OSHA — the Federal Agency responsible for the safety of workers — not issued applicable guidelines for the protection of workers from the coronavirus, as it was during the outbreak of H1N1 in 2009, instead choosing to voluntary guidelines. The Agency said it does not plan any enforcement action, so as not to impose an undue burden during the pandemic.
Representatives of Smithfield cited Executive order trump a Federal court in Missouri, arguing that the local authorities and the state authorities no longer have power over the processors of meat. It was part of the protection of the company in a lawsuit filed by an unnamed employee, claiming that the Smithfield company failed to protect workers by not adopting social distancing and not allowing sick workers to stay home.
U.S. district judge David Gregory Keyes dismissed the case, 12 days later, citing “significant steps” taken to Smithfield to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection in the plant in Milan, Missouri. In a press release the company said that the case was “frivolous, full of false allegations which had no factual or legal significance”.
Less than two weeks after the case was dismissed, voluntary testing at the factory in Milan revealed a flash object. The employee told The Post that fearful employees stay home, and those who come on shift, work overtime to maintain production. Smithfield representatives said that the plant in Milan, “works”, but refused to provide additional information. The company said that they would not confirm the cases “out of respect for the legitimate privacy of employees”.
Employees are afraid to go to work
On April 16, the JBS plant in Greeley was forced to close after approximately 100 workers have been infected and three died. Another employee died in the closing period and another 4 since the opening of the facility on April 24. The number of cases of coronavirus at the plant now exceeds 300, according to the Department of health and environment of Colorado.
“We raise the noise because the number continues to grow, said local Union President Kim Cordova. — People are afraid to go to work because many continue to be sick. There are hundreds of workers who never returned to work. We don’t know if they moved or are on a ventilator. We can’t find them”.
Nikki Richardson, a spokesman JBS, said that the company has adopted enhanced security measures worth more than $ 100 million, including “enhanced sanitation and disinfection measures, the health check and temperature, training of team members, physical distancing, reduction of linear velocities and increased availability of personal protective equipment, including protective mask”.
At the end of may Cordoba toured the plant in Greeley and reported that there have been improvements in facilities for processing beef. Between workplaces were installed metal partitions and protective equipment. However, according to her, it is necessary to take additional security measures to reduce the risk of infection. In plants, too many employees, and because of the noise they take off the mask and leaned closer to talk with the leaders.
Richardson said the company is trying hard and “doing everything possible” to ensure security, and hired workers, who monitor the observance of the required distance and the implementation of other measures associated with protection from coronavirus.
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