Poultry plants with fast line speeds are 10 times as likely to have Covid-19 cases

Since 2018, the Trump administration has issued or renewed waivers to 54 chicken plants that allow them to raise processing speeds from 140 to 175 birds per minute. Those plants are 10 times as likely to have Covid-19 cases than those without the line-speed waivers, according to a Washington Post analysis of data collected by Leah Douglas of FERN. Why is that happening? Workers tell the Post that high-speed processing makes it harder to socially distance, as they “lunge over plastic dividers between work stations” to “snatch back chicken carcasses” and carve them into wings and breasts. Plants with line-speed waivers are also large, and employ thousands of workers, which further feeds the virus spread. President-elect Joe Biden has stated he’s opposed to sped-up slaughter lines, but his nominee for USDA head, Tom Vilsack, pushed for them as a member of the Obama administration.

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