As more and more Smithfield workers in South Dakota fell ill with COVID-19, the company's workers at a Missouri plant contended with policies that made social distancing almost impossible, according to an affidavit from a plant worker filed in a lawsuit last week.
ByKyle Bagenstose, Sky Chadde and Matt Wynn, USA TODAY |
A rash of coronavirus outbreaks at dozens of meat packing plants across the nation is far more extensive than previously thought, according to an exclusive review of cases by USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
And it could get worse. More than 150 of America’s largest meat processing plants operate in counties where the rate of coronavirus infection is already among the nation’s highest, based on the media outlets’ analysis of slaughterhouse locations and county-level COVID-19 infection rates.
About three-quarters of farmers surveyed said they were worried about the coronavirus's impact on their incomes this year, according to a research from Perdue University's Center for Commercial Agriculture published this week. In the survey, 34 percent said they were "fairly worried" and 40 percent said they were "very worried." "The percentage of farmers expecting good times in agriculture in the upcoming 12 months fell from 50 percent in February to just 19 percent in March," according to the center's news release. With decreased demand, dairy farmers have been dumping milk and vegetables have been rotting in the fields, according to the Guardian.
Under federal regulations, many drivers of large commercial trucks are supposed to take 10-hour breaks after 14 hours of work, which can include up to 11 hours of driving. But last week that requirement was waived for truckers delivering goods such as medical supplies, food and fuel.
First reported in December, there are now just over 297,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, worldwide as of midday Saturday — including more than 22,177 cases in the U.S., according to data collected by John Hopkins University. The Midwest Center is reporting on the pandemic's impact in rural areas and in farm country.