Editorial: We paid the price
Art Cullen, The Storm Lake Times (IA)
October 06, 2021
Rates of Covid-19 infections in counties with pork processing plants are twice as high as those without, according to a study published in the research journal Food Policy. Counties with beef and chicken processing facilities also had outsize Covid rates, but less than pork counties. We paid the price to keep the food supply chain intact.
We vividly recall the spring of 2020 when the Trump Administration worked with the governors of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota to order terrified, vulnerable workers into the slaughterhouses to keep the ossified meat companies operating in the black. Gov. Kim Reynolds said we could not place lives before livelihoods — what an epitath. The workers did not have sufficient personal protective equipment, line speeds were maintained, and spacing out was nearly impossible. The result was expected.
The North American Meat Institute dismissed the study. But it was the main conduit among the meat oligopoly, the governors and the White House. Again, it is to be expected. It can make no admissions when lawsuits over fatal employer negligence are getting smothered in defense paperwork.
Tyson increased its efforts in Storm Lake by hiring Matrix Medical Services as its consultant. It tested workers and encouraged vaccines. Tyson since has mandated vaccines, having learned that Covid can have a major impact on production. It also opened a medical clinic for employees, a company store for health care and potential control over the patient/employee. Taken together, it should have an impact on containing infectious disease. Would that the industry cared that much in April 2020.
The study points to the fact that a largely non-union workforce of immigrants put its shoulder to the wheel...