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The coronavirus pandemic’s effect on meat processing plants is now beginning to disrupt the supply chain. Temporary closures have affected multiple meat suppliers as their employees get sick with Covid-19.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest meatpacking union, has reported that at least 20 workers have died of Covid-19 and 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers are impacted by the virus. Impacts include self-quarantine due to exposure, hospitalizations, symptomatic, have tested positive or are waiting for test results. The UFCW estimates that 22 meatpacking plants have closed, with 35,000 workers affected.

The swift spread of the contagious coronavirus is no surprise to those familiar with working conditions at meat processing plants. Pork producer Smithfield said in a statement, “meat processing facilities, which are characterized by labor intensive assembly line style production, are not designed for social distancing.”

The lack of meat processing facilities is also affecting hog and chicken farms, many who have been forced to kill animals or are threatening to kill animals that cannot get processed. 2 million chickens have already been killed. Experts expect the number of animals that are killed before they can reach slaughter will increase.

Experts are now telling Americans to expect meat shortages. “We’ve just completed our third week of reduced slaughter and production,” Dennis Smith, a commodity broker/livestock analyst with Archer Financial Services in Chicago, told NBC News. “My guess is that about one week out, perhaps around May 1, shortages will begin developing at retail meat counters.”

Read more coverage of coronavirus and the meat industry in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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This is a good time to reconsider our intake of animal products to stay healthy. Eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.

Interested in joining the dairy-free and meatless train? We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

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