A fourth food safety inspector, located in Kansas, died on Wednesday from the coronavirus as outbreaks continue to emerge in the nation’s largest meat processing plants, according to an American Federation of Government Employees union official. At least 30 meatpacking plants have been forced to close over the past two months after thousands of workers tested positive for the coronavirus and at least 30 have died, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a recent report that “crowded conditions” for workers in the facilities “could result in high risk” for coronavirus exposure and transmission. Food safety inspectors assess facilities by working on the production floor.
The USDA announced on Friday that 14 plants were restarting operations following President Trump’s April 28 order to keep meat processing plants open amid the coronavirus pandemic. The department said on Tuesday that 171 inspectors did not show up for work after testing positive for the virus, while 123 others remained under self-isolation due to exposure.