The role of meat plants in the coronavirus spread to Brazil’s countryside

Meat-processing plants have accounted for a significant portion of coronavirus cases in Brazil's countryside

meat plants covid-19 coronavirus brazil
Unfit for the “new normal.” The coronavirus will severely alter meat plants’ production lines. Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

Across the globe, the meat industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. This labor-intensive sector is a breeding ground for respiratory viruses such as SARS-Cov-2 — just like prisons or nursing homes. Meat plants are made up of closed, refrigerated spaces — ventilation systems are built to avoid external contamination — where hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people work “shoulder to shoulder,” manipulating animal protein.

In the U.S., over 17,000 meat workers might have been infected with the coronavirus so far, according to the nonprofit group Food & Environment Reporting Network. Over 100 plants were shut down across the...

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