Nurses in Delaware are calling for slaughterhouses to be shut down in the interest of public health.
Last week, local nurses gathered with dieticians and residents outside the state capital building. They maintained social distancing throughout the demonstration.
The protest aimed to capture the attention of Governor John Carney and convince him to close down slaughterhouses.
Some held signs reading “Support Workers, Close Meat Plants” and “Cholesterol is Not Essential.”
U.S. Slaughterhouses Become Coronavirus Hotspots
Over the last few weeks, U.S. slaughterhouses have become hotspots for coronavirus outbreaks. At least 12 of the country’s major virus hotspots can be linked back to meat plants, where conditions are cramped, reports the Guardian.
Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist at nonprofit Food & Water Watch, told the newspaper: “The pandemic has shone a light on the meat industry where for years workers have been exploited in these plants.” He added that some are penalized for taking sick days.
Many meat plants shut down after major coronavirus outbreaks, and others reduced operations significantly. Following an executive order from President Donald Trump, many are now trying to reopen.
More than 15,000 meat plant workers have been infected with the coronavirus. At least 60 have died, reports the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The nonprofit, which counts 12,000 medical professionals among its members, organized the Delaware protest.
Karen Smith, RD, CDE, a member of PCRM, said in a statement: “Reports of plant workers deaths are piling up with over 15,000 workers having become infected with COVID-19. Keeping Delaware meat plants open is harming the health of workers, the surrounding community, and consumers.”
Dr. Neal Barnard, PCRM’s president, has sent a letter to Carney—as well as the 49 other state governors in the country—asking him to shut down slaughterhouses.
Barnard is concerned that workers may transmit the virus to the meat products that they handle.
He said in a statement: “Plant workers who are asymptomatic may still be viral carriers. Because these workers directly handle meat and poultry products, and because the COVID-19 virus is easily airborne, the transmission of the virus to the products they handle is likely.”
He added: “[this] means the transmission of the virus into people’s homes is likely.”