A report from the US Congress has revealed that 269 out of least 59,000 meat workers who caught COVID has died last year.
The U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said the high number of meat workers inflicted with COVID is due to a lack of social distancing as workers usually stand shoulder-to-shoulder along production lines.
The investigative report sourced from internal documents from five of the biggest meatpacking companies states that if only the employers of these meat workers have done more the COVID numbers could have been lower.
The report also shows that at the height of the outbreaks last spring, U.S. meatpacking production fell to about 60% of normal levels as several major plants were forced to temporarily close for deep cleaning and safety upgrades or operated at slower speeds because of worker shortages.
“Instead of addressing the clear indications that workers were contracting the coronavirus at alarming rates due to conditions in meatpacking facilities, meatpacking companies prioritized profits and production over worker safety, continuing to employ practices that led to crowded facilities in which the virus spread easily,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the North American Meat Institute trade group defended the industry’s response to the pandemic.
Julie Anna Potts, president, and CEO of the trade group said meat companies have done their best to protect their workers from the deadly coronavirus.