Coronavirus Hits Meat Plants as Some Workers Get Sick, Others Stay Home

Gene Naumovsky

As employees begin to fall ill, meat plants are either closing down or upgrading prevention measures.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to shutdown sectors of the U.S. economy, meat plant employees are starting to express worries over contracting the virus and unsafe working conditions, according to The Wall Street Journal. JBS USA Holdings Inc. recently closed the largest beef facility east of Chicago, which employs over a 1000 workers, in Souderton, PA., for two weeks as some managers reported flu-like symptoms. President of Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, Wendell Young represents those workers and claims more and more are falling ill.

Young recently said, “It accelerated rapidly in the previous week, and it created some production challenges.”

The $213 billion industry hit record numbers last year with the distribution of 105 billion pounds of beef and poultry.

Tyson Foods Inc. also suspended its pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa as more than two dozen employees tested positive for COVID-19. The company is now using walk-through temperature scanners in its three most important facilities, according to The Motley Fool. Faster and more efficient, the scanners will help keep the three facilities, which produces beef that feeds approximately 18 million people a day, safe and virus free. Tyson also pledged a $60 million bonus package in order to satisfy and empower workers during this chaotic time.

Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International, recently announced that workers will be provided with up to 14 days of paid sick leave, if diagnosed with COVID-19 or in need of isolation, and an April bonus, according to Fox News. The company owns Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Horton’s and will be shipping 15,000 infrared thermometers to all locations.

In a company open letter, Cil wrote, “I feel compelled to say that I am incredibly proud of how everyone in the extended RBI family has pulled together during these very difficult times. I have great faith and more confidence than ever in all our teams and the steps we are taking to come out of this crisis even stronger than before.”

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