??Meatpacking worker Rafael Benjamin was ordered NOT to wear a mask b/c it was “creating unnecessary fears.” Days later, he got seriously ill with #COVID19 and then died.— Dr. Dena Grayson (@DrDenaGrayson) May 7, 2020
~5,000 workers–1% of its workforce–have been sickened by #coronavirus; 20 DIED.?https://t.co/AOSjfbwp2m
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.