Cold, Crowded, Deadly: How U.S. Meat Plants Became a Virus Breeding Ground

Conspiracy theorists are spreading the myth that the government in Red States has closed down meatpacking plants, not the virus.


“By late March, Rafael Benjamin’s family was pleading with him to stay home from work even if it cost him his job. He promised he would, but not until after April 10. That would be his work anniversary, his 17th at Cargill Inc.’s pork and beef processing plant in Hazleton, Pa.—a milestone for topping up his pension when he retired in October.

So Benjamin, 64, soldiered on, a second-shift worker earning $15.35 an hour. Around him, colleagues were falling ill; on the employee grapevine, people said it was the coronavirus. Supervisors said that wasn’t true and told workers not to discuss who might be infected. But before long, Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, ran through entire departments. By April 7, 130 of the plant’s 900 employees had tested positive, according to the workers’ union, United Food & Commercial Workers International, but neither Cargill nor local officials were disclosing any numbers. Amid the information void, Benjamin kept working, with growing unease.

March was a time of spreading disease and denial across the U.S. meat and poultry industry. Laborers in the immense slaughterhouses and packing houses passed the contagion on processing lines and in locker rooms, then in their homes. Plants began to slow or to go idle. The toll on workers and the nation’s food supply is only now becoming clear. …”

The virus is now flourishing in meatpacking plants for the same reason it thrives in prisons and churches: cold, recirculated air where people work close together are ideal conditions for a coronavirus to spread. The government hasn’t closed grocery stores and meatpacking plants.

Note: Many of the states where the virus has closed meatpacking plants like South Dakota and Iowa never had stay-at-home orders.

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  1. Up until the mid-1980’s meat packing and food processing were Clean and White. Then Hormel decided to kick out their White employees and replace them with Mexicans and Africans. The other packers and processors like Tyson followed suit. Now you have a filthy mess, so I’ve been told, almost as bad as in the days of Frank Norris and Theodore Dreiser.

    What happened to all the Federal and State laws and regulations covering packing and processing? More Trumpo monitoring of the situation?

    • Starting with that good “conservative” Ronald Reagan the number of USDA meatpacking inspectors was cut way back, their number maxed out when Nixon was president in 1972. This was part of that idiot Reagan’s “deregulation” campaign culminating in the destruction of union bargaining power and bringing in hordes of illiterate wogs to do the filthy work for low wages. This is exactly what big business has wanted since Upton Sinclair’s book “The Jungle” caused a furor resulting in regulation and cleaning up of meatpacking in the early 20th century.

    • True, but do you think there is something special about white people that the virus wouldn’t spread like wildfire if they were in the meat plants? Sounds like the meat plant bosses, and the political bosses in areas who are elected by agribusiness money have a shut up and keep quiet attitude not too different from the authorities in Wuhan.

      • It seems likely that if the workers in meatpacking plants were white like they were overwhelmingly until the 1990’s they would be just as vulnerable to corona. One difference though if the cut backs on regulation and union busting of meat packing hadn’t happened the owners of the plants would have been forced to provide protective gear for the workers and also more incentive pay, that’s what unions could and did achieve. This would have made them safer places to work, less likely to close and cause food shortages.

        The whole point of deregulation in the 1980’s was to end union power to increase wages and enforce workplace safety. Opening the southern border to whatever the cat dragged in dovetailed nicely with both goals. This increased profits for big agribusiness enormously while causing declines in income throughout rural America. Smaller ranchers and farmers couldn’t compete with Big Ag and many of them sold out increasing concentration in corporate farming/ranching.

        In further pursuit of more money, “profit maximization” as the college professors call it (others call it greed) corporations like Smithfield Farms, the largest pork producer in the U.S. sold out to the Chinese government. Congress turned a blind eye because they were receiving millions in bribes (legal and called “campaign contributions”) to allow these short sighted, destructive practices to continue, they didn’t give a damn about the welfare of the country.

        The “liberal” system of democracy in the U.S. allows these self destructive policies to continue. Democracy is excellent at allowing various narrowly focused factions representing concentrated interests to use the government to obtain for themselves, at the expense of the rest of the country, things they couldn’t obtain honestly.

        Liberal democracy, endorsed by both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and “conservatives” is what is killing us and ultimately will kill itself too.

      • “True, but do you think there is something special about white people that the virus wouldn’t spread”

        Yeah, they wash their hands, don’t pick their ass and a few trivial things , like that.

  2. The deep state placed 5g transmitters into meat packing plants to scare all the migrant workers and spread the message to their home countries that coming to America to work is more deadly than staying put. Why? To destroy the Trump economy. Stocks were so high and the economy was doing so well that Trump needed to bring in the largest numbers of migrant meatpackers in history. Q’s already on it, though. Q Team Alpha are going to destabilize Venezuela and force millions of migrants to flee here for meatpacking work and SAVE AMERICA.

  3. “In recent weeks, 115 meat and poultry plants have reported Covid-19 infections in the U.S., and about 5,000 workers, 1% of the industry’s workforce, have been confirmed sick, with 20 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

    5,000 workers–is that a lot or a little? I personally have no idea how that compares with the sickness numbers in those plants during a “cold and flu season,” or whatever that time of year is called in those over-the-counter-medicine commercials to which I never pay attention since I have the health of Charlemagne.

    It amazes me, Mr. W., that you can read all these mainstream-media articles, with their low info-to-word ratio. I myself usually start to tune out about halfway through the headline.

    • It sounds like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, you dolt.

      20 dead… Yeah that’s ordinary. For 1900.

      • I think I heard on the radio the other day that the union to which these workers belong is in one hundred fifteen (115) of these plants–nationwide, that is. Twenty dead out of–what? half a million workers (since the 5,000 are spoken of, in the article, as 1%)? In one hundred fifteen sites that are supposedly an infection breeding ground? I’d like to see a few more numbers, that’s all, Captain.

  4. If we had a White nation, meat packing would be automated and hyper hygienic.
    As we turn brown , I expect to see ‘wet market’s like China.

    “Si senior, the meat is very fresh, look at how active the maggots are”

    • It already is automated to some extent, the machines aren’t as nimble as human hands and when they disembowel chickens can make a mess, that’s why poultry has Salmonella. Bourdain was in Japan where the chef of some fancy restaurant personally slaughtered the chickens there with great care and kept the meat hygienic and served the chicken breast over a charcoal grill “medium rare” an impossibility with US poultry. I am wondering how Gordon Ramsey and his chefs on his show can get away with serving Duck Breast medium rare, are duck slaughtered with more care than chickens? Maybe that’s why a duck now cost’s $30 when in the 90s they were under $10. I remember Goose was $25 in the 90s, now they are $70. I used to cook one once a year around Christmas, the breast was really good with some mushroom gravy, not at these prices anymore.

      • “It already is automated to some extent,”

        I mean totally automated.

        ” the machines aren’t as nimble as human hands ”

        They never will be nimble, so long as mud labor is employed.

  5. Wow. Such a contageous and deadly virus. One would think that it would have wiped out the meat packing employees within the first month…yet here we are on what? Month 3 and NOW it’s a “crisis”.

  6. Rafael Benjamin is a Mexican. Hazelton, Pa is loaded with them. It is the Mexicans who are getting infected in the slaughterhouses and it is the Mexicans who are spreading the sickness throughout the back country. Why can’t they say?

    • Because the U.S. Government and it beneficial owners have a policy of bringing in Mexicans to replace White people. The truth which you have stated: ” . . . it is the Mexicans who are spreading the sickness throughout the back country . . .” contradicts this key goal of the U.S. Government and therefore, the Lügenpresse must suppress this truth. That is their job, to reinforce the official narrative and suppress contradictory news and viewpoints.

  7. Bat disease. Let’s drive everyone into cold damp cave and make them have physically demanding jobs.

  8. I feel vindicated that I strongly participated in LOS League of the South protests against Tyson Foods for flooding Middle Tennessee with low wage Muslim migrant workers from Somalia/Minnesota.

    This is a great issue for us.

    The filthy rich agribusinesses owners make $ millions a year, abuse animals , treat their workers like slaves and now spread Coronavirus to smal mostly White towns.

    Plus it makes the Lib lying press forced to defend Cargil/Tyson Foods plutocrats .

    Let s go for it.

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