Meatpacking plants increase per capita COVID-19 infection rates by as much as 160% in their respective counties, according to an article published in Food Policy. Researchers compared county-level COVID-19 infection rates with the presence of large meatpacking plants. Within 150 days of a COVID-19 infection, a meatpacking plant that produced beef, pork, or chicken increased infections in that county by 110%, 160%, or 20%, respectively. The article attributes 334,000 infections in the United States to meatpacking plants with an associated morbidity cost of $11.2 billion. Demand to keep meatpacking plants open impacted half a million employees and led to increased infections in those counties. These data report a disproportionate impact on people of color, including Hispanic, Black, and Asian staff.
Saitone TL, Schaefer KA, Scheitrum DP. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in U.S. meatpacking counties. Food Policy. 2021;101:102072-102090. doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2021.102072