meatpacking

USDA/Alice Welch.

A study published Thursday in a prestigious scientific journal links significant increases in COVID-19 transmission rates to meatpacking plants, especially those facilities that the federal government has allowed to speed up processing lines.

Daniel Schneider/U.S. Army

As the economies of the Ohio Valley gradually reopen from the pandemic closures, state officials are still reporting hundreds of coronavirus cases each day in the region. In Kentucky, coronavirus cases are again on the rise, with a week-long average of daily cases approaching the highest level yet. Public health officials are concerned about a spread of coronavirus into more rural parts of the region. 

Liam Niemeyer via Zoom video

 It’s the uncertainty that gets to Darlene Davis. The uncertainty of when she’ll see her 87-year-old mother in person again. The uncertainty of her co-workers’ health. The uncertainty that comes with the novel coronavirus.

 

When a co-worker of hers at the JBS Swift meatpacking plant in Louisville died from COVID-19, she said that uncertainty turned into fear for many of the 1,200 employees at the plant.

Thousands of meatpacking workers across the country were recently ordered back to work in plants that have seen massive outbreaks of COVID-19. According to recent CDC data reflecting some states' outbreaks through the end of April, at least 5,000 workers have contracted the virus and 20 have died. Other nonprofit organizations have reported many more.

Nicole Erwin | Ohio Valley ReSource

As President Trump ordered meatpacking plants on Tuesday to keep operating amid the coronavirus pandemic, more details are emerging about the concerns workers had about their safety at a facility in Louisville, where dozens of workers were infected and one died. 

Daniel Schneider/U.S. Army

  The Kentucky Department for Public Health has confirmed 220 employees at meatpacking plants across Kentucky have tested positive for the coronavirus, with one employee death related to the virus in Louisville.

USDA/Alice Welch.

  Dozens of coronavirus cases have been confirmed at two west Kentucky meatpacking plants, following concerns Ohio Valley worker safety advocates have raised about the spread of the coronavirus in these kind of facilities. 

USDA/Alice Welch

  As the number of coronavirus cases surge across the country, some meatpacking facilities have been temporarily shuttered due to workers falling ill to the virus. Three workers in Georgia have even died.