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87% Of Meatpacking Workers Infected With Coronavirus Have Been Racial And Ethnic Minorities, CDC Says


Nearly nine in 10 of the 16,000 workers at meat processing facilities who contracted Covid-19 in April and May were racial and ethnic minorities, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, further evidence of the coronavirus’ outsized impact on vulnerable communities as outbreaks continue to surge nationwide.


Meat processing facilities have been common sites for Covid-19 outbreaks, with the CDC finding 16,233 cases in 239 facilities reported across 23 states through April and May.

Some 9% of employees at meat and poultry processing facilities contracted the virus in 14 states for which total numbers of workers were available.

Among the 61% of facilities that report race and ethnicity, 87% of the workers affected were minorities, with the largest share Hispanic (56%), followed by non-Hispanic Blacks (19%) and Asians (12%).

That’s out of proportion with the demographics for the plants overall, which were 39% white, 30% Hispanic, 25% Black and 6% Asian, illustrating the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on racial and ethnic minorities.

The CDC previously found that 55% of Covid-19 cases in a nationwide study were Hispanic and Black, despite making up 31% of the total population of the country.

According to the CDC, there have been 86 deaths at meat and poultry facilities, encompassing 0.5% of those infected.

Key Background

Amid fears of a meat shortage, President Trump in April signed an executive order forcing meat processing plants to remain open despite the spread of Covid-19, though plants have been forced to shut down to address outbreaks. 

Big Number

2,966,409. That’s the number of confirmed cases in the U.S., nearly double the second-leading country Brazil. It also leads with reported deaths at 130,902.

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