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Legal / Regulatory

June 07, 2020 - USA Today

Coronavirus outbreaks climb at U.S. meatpacking plants despite protections, Trump order

Coronavirus outbreaks climb at U.S. meatpacking plants despite protections, Trump order
Meat workers amid CoronavirusFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Coronavirus outbreaks at U.S. meatpacking plants continue to soar as the beleaguered industry ramps up production, scales back plant closures and tries to return to normal in the weeks after President Donald Trump declared it an essential operation.

Trump’s April 28th executive order followed the industry’s dire warnings of meat shortages and invoked the Defense Production Act to compel slaughterhouses and processing plants to remain open.

The order had a chilling effect on the steady drumbeat of closures that had come to symbolize the crisis throughout April and early May. Nearly three dozen coronavirus-affected plants temporarily shuttered in the month leading up to Trump’s executive order. Meat production, which had briefly tanked, quickly rebounded after the order to near pre-coronavirus levels and quelled consumer fears of pork, beef and poultry shortages.

But the number of coronavirus cases tied to meatpacking plants has more than doubled since then, topping 20,400 infections across 216 plants in 33 states, according to tracking from the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. At least 74 people have died.

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