The lethal Covid-19 connection between meatpacking plants and rural communities

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a devastating effect on the U.S. meatpacking industry and the communities where meatpacking plants are located, a number of disturbing connections are becoming clearer, says FERN’s latest story, produced with The Daily Yonder.

The story, written by Leah Douglas and Tim Marema, cross-references Covid-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants with infection rates in U.S. counties. Among the findings:

• Rural counties that have meatpacking plants where there have been Covid-19 outbreaks have an average infection rate of nearly 1,100 cases per 100,000 residents. In rural counties without meatpacking plant-linked outbreaks, the average infection rate is only 209 cases per 100,000 residents.
• Infection rates in counties with meatpacking-related Covid-19 cases exceed even those in metropolitan hot spots like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Nationally, six of the 10 counties with the highest Covid-19 infection rates have meatpacking plants where there have been outbreaks.
• According to an analysis by FERN, Tyson Foods alone accounts for a third of all Covid-19 cases among meatpacking workers nationally.
• Fifty-two percent of U.S. counties with Covid-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants are rural, 21 percent are small metropolitan counties, 14 percent are midsize metropolitan counties, and 14 percent are major metropolitan counties.

Read the full story at FERN.