Meatpacking plants in the US believed to increase the rate of COVID-19 infections
Meatpackers in the US are believed to have a large contribution in spreading the coronavirus through local communities. new research published by the National Academy of Sciences ties livestock meatpacking plants to 6% to 8% of US COVID-19 cases, informs Drovers magazine.
The authors said the data show “a strong positive relationship” between meatpacking plants and “local community transmission,” suggesting the plants act as “transmission vectors” and “accelerate the spread of the virus.”
Researchers at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business found that the risk of excess death primarily came from large meatpacking plants operated by industry giants. Communities that acted to shut down slaughterhouses reduced spread, according to the researchers.
The researchers called the COVID-19 pandemic a public health and economic crisis in which policymakers face tradeoffs between maintaining essential economic activities and mitigating disease spread. President Trump issued an executive order on April 28 directing meatpackers to reopen closed facilities.
“Our study suggests that, among essential industries, livestock processing poses a particular public health risk extending far beyond meatpacking companies and their employees,” the authors wrote. The figures presented in the study are referring to 236,000 to 310,000 COVID-19 cases and 4,300 to 5,200 deaths by July 21. As a recommendation, the authors insist that meatpacking plants operated by giant players in the industry are representing a risk, while smaller-scale meat production is much safer. Ensuring both public health and robust essential supply chains may require an increase in meatpacking oversight and potentially a shift toward more decentralized, smaller-scale meat production,” the study concluded.
Higher feed prices have reduced profitability for Russian pig breeders and prices per kilo in liv...