Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar defended Donald Trump’s decision to use the Defense Production Act to force meatpacking plants to remain open by stating that he believes infected employees were being exposed to the virus in their communities and bringing it into processing plants as opposed to being exposed to the virus in the plants themselves. Similarly, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, stated during a recent hearing that an outbreak in Brown County, Wisconsin was “due to the meatpacking” not “just the regular folks in Brown County.”
Meatpacking towns from Iowa to Maryland accounted for eight of the 10 fastest growing Covid-19 hotspots in the past two weeks. About 44% of meatpackers are Latino and 25% are African American according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
In response to these comments, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:
“Every worker in America deserves a safe workplace, regardless of the color of their skin or where they were born. That should go without saying—but, tragically, during this Trump presidency it must be said. Workers in the meatpacking industry are essential, not expendable, and their lives are worth every bit as much as anybody else’s. These racist comments are disgusting and shameful.”