Ohio Valley Resource discusses Study Links Increased COVID-19 Transmission To Poultry Plants Allowed To Operate Faster.
A study published Thursday in a prestigious scientific journal links significant increases in COVID-19 transmission rates to meatpacking plants, especially those facilities that the federal government has allowed to speed up processing lines. Researchers found evidence that linked meatpacking plants to a “high potential for community spread” in the surrounding areas. The findings have implications for the Ohio Valley, where Tyson Foods plants in western Kentucky and southern Indiana received waivers this spring to increase work line speed even as dozens of workers were falling ill to the virus.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, found that counties with poultry processing plants that received line speed waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have double the rate of COVID-19 cases compared to counties with poultry plants that did not receive these waivers. Researchers found an even stronger connection with waivers given to processing plants this year.
A report from ProPublica earlier this year revealed through emails how meatpacking companies fought with local health agencies over measures to reduce COVID-19 spread, including a health department leader in western Kentucky worrying about reports of plant management forcing symptomatic employees to continue working.