The July 10 CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) included the report: COVID-19 Among Workers in Meat and Poultry Processing Facilties – United States, updating how COVID-19 outbreaks among meat and poultry processing facility workers can rapidly affect large numbers of persons. According to the report:
Among 23 states reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in meat and poultry processing facilities, 16,233 cases in 239 facilities occurred, including 86 (0.5%) COVID-19–related deaths. Among cases with race/ethnicity reported, 87% occurred among racial or ethnic minorities. Commonly implemented interventions included worker screening, source control measures (universal face coverings), engineering controls (physical barriers), and infection prevention measures (additional hand hygiene stations).
Distinctive factors that increase meat and poultry processing workers’ risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, include prolonged close workplace contact with coworkers (within 6 feet for ≥15 minutes) for long time periods (8–12 hour shifts), shared work spaces, shared transportation to and from the workplace, congregate housing, and frequent community contact with fellow workers. Many of these factors might also contribute to ongoing community transmission
As such, while meat and poultry processing facilities face distinctive challenges in the control of infectious diseases, CDC recommends targeted workplace interventions and prevention efforts that are appropriately tailored to the groups most affected by COVID-19 are critical to reducing both COVID-19–associated occupational risk and health disparities among vulnerable populations.