MEAT packing facilities in the United States hit hard by COVID-19 issues since March are now operating at close to normal capacity again.
As of yesterday, US beef, pork and poultry processors were operating at more than 95 percent of their average capacity compared to this time last year. Beef facilities, when separated from the other species, were operating at 98pc of capacity.
The Midwest Centre for Investigative Reporting suggested that 216 US meat packing and slaughter facilities have so far been impacted by COVID-19 infection among staff, across 33 states.
Despite security measures such as social distancing, temperature checks and plastic barriers, 74 US meat workers have now died due to COVID-19. Tyson Foods was the worst-affected company with more than 7000 confirmed cases, followed by JBS (2642) and Smithfield Foods (1705).
Distancing measures, sickness, absenteeism and other factors saw dramatic reductions in US beef production for six weeks.
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released a statement yesterday applauding the safe reopening of critical infrastructure meatpacking facilities across the United States.
“America’s meat packing facilities are safely resuming operations following President Trump’s Executive Order directing the facilities to implement the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines specifically created for the meat and poultry sector response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary Purdue said.
The US Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with federal, state and local health officials, had been working around the clock to ensure a safe and stable supply of protein is available for American consumers, while keeping employees safe, he said.
“President Trump took decisive action to ensure America’s meat packing facilities reopen in a safe way to ensure America’s producers and ranchers will be able to bring their product to market,” Secretary Perdue said.
“I want to thank the patriotic and heroic meat packing facility workers, the companies, and the local authorities for quickly getting their operations back up and running, and for providing a great meat selection once again to the millions of Americans who depend on them for food.”