SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Activists and health care workers gathered outside the Utah State Capitol to call on Gov. Gary Herbert to close all the state’s meatpacking plants.
This comes after more than 300 employees were infected during a coronavirus outbreak at a meatpacking facility in Cache County. Protest organizers and attendees believe that outbreak led to a massive spike in new COVID-19 cases in the surrounding communities.
“We’ve actually seen that the workers who are in meatpacking plants have a ten-fold increase risk of contracting COVID-19 over other food processing plants,” said Niki Davis, physician and protest attendee.
Animal rights activists have said the working conditions at meatpacking facilities and slaughterhouses are ripe for the spread of the infectious disease.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this year classifying meat processing as critical infrastructure to keep production plants open.
According to the The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, as of July 17, there have been at least 33,500 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 363 plants in 38 states.
Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctor members, sent a letter to Herbert asking him to close meatpacking plants across Utah.