Report: COVID damages in meat plants exceeded $11.2 billion

A new report in the journal Food Policy has evaluated the 2020 damages from COVID-19 in U.S. meat plants, and arrived at some notable conclusions.

The report found that 334,000 COVID-19 infections were attributable to meat plants, and that the lost productivity/morbidity costs totaled more than $11.2 billion, according to the authors, Tina Saitone at UC-Davis, K. Aleks Schaefer at Michigan State, and Daniel P. Scheitrum at the University of Arizona.

Regarding lost productivity, the report found pork plants to be the most affected, with $336.43 million in losses. Beef was second, with $186 million, and poultry a distant third at $40.13 million. And for morbidity costs, the breakdown was $6.263.04 billion for pork plants, $3.548.33 billion for beef, and $791.02 million for poultry.

Furthermore, the report found that within 150 days of COVID’s emergence in a county, the presence of a beef plant increased per capita infection rates by 110%, while for pork and chicken plants, the rates increased by 160% and 20%, respectively.

However, the report ultimately stressed that those early infection rates fell considerably, and either converged with other counties or fell below such levels. The authors cited the “numerous steps” that meatpackers took to reduce transmission levels, including PPE, ventilation upgrades and the installation of ultraviolet lights; also, they stated that the earlier, higher infection rates in meat plants granted “temporary immunity” to workers.

Par Peter Thomas Ricci (19/04/2021)

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