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Meat Plant Workers Are Contracting COVID-19 Because of Unsafe Working Conditions

Plus, some Instacart shoppers are seeing bait-and-switch tips, and more news to start your day

Workers handling raw chicken in a factory line.
Workers in meat processing plants are contracting, and in some cases dying from, COVID-19.
Photo: vodograj/Shutterstock

COVID-19 has reached vulnerable workers in meat plants

Meat processing plant employees — many of whom are Black, Latinx, and immigrants — are facing exposure to the novel coronavirus while earning low wages and working in crowded conditions. The New York Times reports that several employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at meat plants, with more than 80 sick workers at one pork plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., and some have died in recent days.

Some plants have put into place social distancing measures, like installing barriers between workstations and spacing out employees on the floor. Others have offered financial incentives to keep workers coming back. In Camilla, Ga., Tyson offered plant workers a $500 bonus if they worked April through June without missing a single day.

But for some employees, it’s not worth risking their lives for a few extra hundred dollars and the federal government’s praise for essential workers who continue to “show up and do [their] job” to prevent hiccups in the food supply chain.

“Enough is enough,” Shynekia Emanuel, a Camilla plant worker who has Crohn’s disease, told the Times. “Nobody wants to risk their lives over some chicken.”

And in other news…

  • You may be the biggest asshole in the world if you dangle a huge tip to lure an Instacart shopper to take your order, only to change the tip to zero post-delivery. [CNN]
  • Starbucks reports that same-store sales are down 60 to 70 percent due to the pandemic. [NRN]
  • Alcohol sales, on the other hand, are soaring. [Bloomberg]
  • Taco Bell’s Taco Tuesday deal is a hit with customers, but not with workers, who are concerned about the risk of increased coronavirus exposure due to the number of people swarming to stores. [Business Insider]
  • With many restaurants out of business, the “farm” part of the “farm-to-table” equation is left with food it can’t sell. [NYT]
  • Under capitalism, cars line up for miles at food banks. [The Nib]
  • A cool auction of original art, with proceeds going to World Central Kitchen. [@artofmmignola/Twitter]
  • When Subway’s social media manager is your “therapist.” [@warmfourloko/Twitter]
  • Once timid in the shadow of human encroachment, baguettes are returning to reclaim their natural habitat:

All AM Intel Coverage [E]