Two COVID-19 deaths at Kenosha Co. meat processing plant prompts for CDC investigation

Posted at 10:31 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-09 19:20:08-04

KENOSHA-- A second COVID-19 related death has prompted the Center for Disease Control to open an investigation into a Kenosha meat processing plant.

Officials with the CDC have already been on the ground in Southeastern Wisconsin tracking the spread of disease throughout the state. However, the a newly dispatched team will specialize in the investigation of outbreaks surrounding meat processing facilities.

“As of tomorrow we will be receiving another team of five. Those are very specialized experts helping us including the meat packaging plant and the meat processing plant,” said Dr. Sanjib Bhattacharyya, Laboratory Director for the City of Milwaukee Health Department.

In Kenosha County, health officials confirmed that a second worker at Calumet Diversified Meats has died.

Grocery stores dealing with disruption of meat supply
A shopper surveys the overflowing selection of packaged meat in a grocery early Monday, April 27, 2020. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“No one in America should have to worry about getting sick or possibly dying because of where they work,” said Jake Bailey, food processing director at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1473.

However none employed at Calumet Diversified Meats. The union has publically requested more federal oversight in meat processing plants.

In recent weeks, several meatpacking facilities have temporaraly shut down during COVID-19 outbreaks.

COVID-19 Cases At Meat Processing Plants:

In Green Bay:
290 at JBS
179 at American Food Group

In Denmark:
35 at Salm Partners

In Cudahy:
85 at Smithfield

In Pleasant Prairie:
22 Calumet Diversified Meats

In the Town of Paris:
15 at Kenosha Beef International

The latest numbers show in Wisconsin there are more than 600 COVID-19 cases in six different meat processing plants. The number is likely higher because these are only plants that have reported their cases. The union is calling for changes. They want things like daily COVID-19 testing available to employees, physical distancing requirement and required use of the highest level of personal protective equipment.

“We want federal inspectors in these plants monitoring these safety standards on a regular and continuous basis,” said Bailey.

The National Guard has also stepped to help test meat packing workers for COVID-19 at various plants.

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