As local governments continue to fight outbreaks of coronavirus, Amarillo has continued to lead the state with infections. These outbreaks have been attributed to meatpacking plants in the area. Last week, 410 COVID-19 cases were confirmed at the Amarillo Tyson plant alone.
Over the weekend, Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed that over 700 new cases of the virus were reported in or around Amarillo on Saturday. In other words, the problem is worsening, and meatpacking plants are at the heart of it. With thousands of people working shoulder-to-shoulder
Amarillo: Texas’s Hotspot for COVID-19
Last week, Tyson tested every worker at its plant just outside of Amarillo, Texas. The testing comes as meatpacking plants around the nation have sustained severe COVID-19 outbreaks. While many plants closed in response to outbreaks, an order from the Trump administration has led to the reopening of plants across the nation.
Officials are warning that plant workers are continuing to test positive for coronavirus at alarming rates. They warn that, in many instances, workers with the virus are asymptomatic and could be spreading it to their community without realizing that they’re doing so.
The greater Amarillo area consists of two counties: Potter County and Randall County. Testing numbers from Saturday reveal that Potter County had 618 new cases and Randall County had 116 cases. Of the 1,801 new coronavirus cases reported in Texas on Saturday, 40 percent of them were in the Amarillo area.
Just North of Amarillo is Moore County, another hotspot for coronavirus cases in the state. A JBS plant in the small town of Cactus was at the center of a 243-person outbreak of the virus in early May. As of May 14, 323 cases have been tied to the plant. The company claimed that it was “not aware of testing being offered by the state” and said that they encouraged “team members to participate in a community testing program, should one become available. Yet, according to a state spokesperson, JBS resisted the state’s offer to test workers for the virus.
According to workers from JBS, plant management was slow to acknowledge the start of the coronavirus at the Cactus plant. Workers were not informed when their colleagues started to become ill and the company failed to warn when someone was exposed to a person who tested positive for the virus.