More than 4,913 US workers in 115 meatpacking plants have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a new report compiled by the Centers for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twenty have died from their illnesses. The report was published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), just as news broke that 890 employees at a Tyson pork processing plant in Cass County, Indiana, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The plant has voluntarily closed for 2 weeks. Similar outbreaks have been noted Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota. The outbreaks, along with nursing homes, are some of the biggest single-source COVID-19 clusters in the country. The CDC said the congregate work conditions in plants, close proximity to other workers, and long shifts, allow for respiratory infections to spread quickly among workers. The CDC recommends a number of corrective measures for plant operators, including keeping employees 6 feet apart, engineering more airflow in plants, and reconfiguring production lines so workers do not face each other. Earlier this week President Donald Trump said he planned to use the Defense Production Act to mandate meatpacking plants stay open during the coronavirus epidemic, citing them as critical infrastructure.

 

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