Coronavirus: Nearly 90% of infected meat plant workers are minorities, says CDC

While white workers made up 39 per cent of the overall workforce, they represented only 13 per cent of cases

Germania Rodriguez Poleo
Thursday 09 July 2020 19:06 BST
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Minority workers at meat processing plants are particularly affected by coronavirus, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found.

The report found that as many as 87 per cent of those who contracted coronavirus belonged to racial and ethnic minorities even though they are only 61 per cent of the total worker population.

According to the data, Latino workers were the most affected, making up 56 per cent of the coronavirus cases. Non-Hispanic Black workers were 19 per cent of the cases, and 12 per cent were Asian.

While white workers made up 39 per cent of the overall workforce, they only represented 13 per cent of the cases.

For this study the CDC looked at more than 16,000 coronavirus cases at 239 plants in 21 states, giving insight into how the pandemic has devastated the nation’s pork, beef and poultry industry.

However, the study’s findings are likely to understate the problem because officials from Iowa, the country’s main pork-producing state, refused to participate even though the state saw grave outbreaks at several major processing plants.

“The effects of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority groups are not yet fully understood; however, current data indicate a disproportionate burden of illness and death among these populations,” the CDC said.

“Ongoing efforts to reduce incidence and better understand the effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minorities are important to ensure that workplace-specific prevention strategies and intervention messages are tailored to those groups most affected by COVID-19,” the agency added.

On Wednesday, a coalition of food workers and civil rights activists filed a civil rights complaint asking the Department of Agriculture to stop giving federal funds to Tyson Foods Inc. and JBS USA.

The complaint accuses the companies of treating “plant floor workers as sacrificial” for the “the purpose of maximizing profits and processing capacity.”


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