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Numerous poultry and meat processing plants around the country have reported employee deaths and illnesses related to coronavirus. Smithfield Foods shut down a South Dakota plant after 350 workers fell ill with the virus.

Conditions across the country are bleak as numerous processing plants report illnesses and deaths. According to research from Truthout, half of South Dakota’s infections are traced back to the Smithfield Foods’ plant. In Pennsylvania, 130 workers at a Cargill Meat Solutions plant tested positive and a union steward at a JBS Beef plant died of coronavirus infection.

Employees that already work in dangerous, unsanitary conditions are now dealing with the threat of the highly contagious coronavirus. Reuters reported that a chicken processing plant in Alabama was making employees pay for masks to protect themselves. Employees also reported that facilities were not practicing the recommended social distancing protocol.   Mona Darby, who inspects chicken breasts at the Wayne Farms’ chicken plant in Alabama and is a local leader of hundreds of poultry workers for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said, ” My life is in jeopardy because we’re working elbow to elbow.”

Because meat and food processing is deemed an “essential business,” many employees are still showing up to work. Magaly Licolli, who is executive director of Venceremos, an advocacy group for poultry plant workers, spoke to Truthout about the issues workers are facing during coronavirus. “Poultry workers do not have basic benefits, so workers are used to go to work while sick. And now with this pandemic, workers are just terrified to go to work, the lack of measurements of these companies to take social distancings to prevent the spread. It’s just not evident. So, workers are risking their lives, and now they are demanding that these companies provide to them paid sick benefits for them to be able to be at home and not risking their income,” said Licolli.

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.

Catch up on our latest coronavirus coverage in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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