In the United States, rural communities are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. At the heart of these outbreaks are the people who are suffering the most: meatpacking workers. Some rural counties have such severe outbreaks that they’re seeing infection rates that are higher than urban centers of the outbreak such as New York City.
How Bad Is the COVID-19 Outbreak for Meatpacking Communities?
Recent reports have determined that rural counties with meatpacking plants have had coronavirus infection rates that are five times higher than those without them. Rural counties with meatpacking plants have 1,100 infections per 100,000 people. Counties with no meatpacking plant outbreaks have an average infection rate of 209 per 100,000 people.
Of the 14 rural counties with outbreaks, 10 of them contain meatpacking plants that have had a significant number of workers test positive for coronavirus. These plants include facilities operated by Tyson Foods, Smithfield, Cargill, Seaboard Foods, and JBS.
The Cactus, TX JBS Meatpacking Plant COVID-19 Outbreak
One of the plants with a significant amount of COVID-19 infections is the JBS meatpacking plant in Cactus, Texas. In April, we reported that the area around the JBS facility in Cactus had an infection rate that was 13 times higher than the state’s most populated county. Since then, JBS told reporters that it was taking every step possible to protect workers.
According to one former JBS worker in Cactus, the company didn’t take enough steps to stop the spread of COVID-19. Identified as Maricella, she quit after multiple coworkers died from the virus. At the time the article was published, her father, a JBS employee for 25 years, was fighting to recover from COVID-19.
“There’s too many people to do socially distancing. I’m sorry, it really is. I mean, the lanes are little when you walk through. Eventually, someone’s going to get hurt or something is going to pass through there," Maricella told reporters.
Arnold & Itkin’s COVID-19 outbreak lawyers are currently representing a worker from this plant. Our team asserts that meatpacking companies did too little to protect their workers from coronavirus outbreaks. Now, thousands of people are suffering because the meat processing giants in America have chosen to value production over safety.