The summer barbecue season is looking bleaker every day as workers continue to sicken and die from the Coronavirus apparently contracted at meatpacking plants around the country, and their stubborn coworkers stay home or demand onerous safety regulations.
Fortunately, the Trump administration has ordered meatpacking workers back to work while promising liability protection for wealthy owners and making the CDC guidelines designed to protect workers’ health and safety entirely voluntary. These bold moves hopefully augur a bounty of tasty meats on your poolside patio table this summer, and if you wash it all down with enough craft beer or Chardonnay, the image of dead immigrant and low wage workers will fade quickly from your minds.
Still, some critics are carping about the dangers of reopening meatpacking plants when owners have absolutely no legal requirements to implement safety guidelines in the middle of pandemic in which meatpacking plants have experienced 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 45 deaths.
Others have bemoaned the lack of testing for the virus in many meatpacking plants. Vice President Mike Pence addressed the outbreak at the JBS Plant in Greeley, Colorado on April 10th and promised federal help for testing for all the workers, but the help never came. The company started testing its managers, but abruptly stopped, never revealed the results and reopened anyway. Since the outbreak, 7 of its workers have died from COVID-19 and 280 have tested positive.
But Republicans have identified the real problem spreading death and misery among meatpacking workers: the squalid living conditions of swarthy immigrant workers. In South Dakota where an outbreak at the Smithfield Meatpacking Plant in Sioux Falls infected a thousand employees and people who came into contact with them, Governor Kristi Noem claimed that “99 percent of what’s going on today wasn’t happening inside the facility” and that the virus spread “more at home, where these employees were going home and spreading some of the virus because a lot of these people who work in the plant live in the community, the same building, sometimes in the same apartment.”
So immigrants are the infernal source of the plague and if they bring the virus from their filthy hovels into the immaculate and very safe meatpacking plants, they owe it to us to work to their very last breath and then step away from the assembly line at the moment they perish. These expendable–I mean essential workers must honor their duty to keep our tables laden with burgers, steaks and chickens. Stock up on your coals and lighter fluid and have a great summer.