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44 deaths among meatpacking workers in U.S., union says
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — At least 44 meatpacking workers in the U.S. have died from the new coronavirus and another 3,000 have tested positive, according to an estimate released Thursday by the largest union representing workers.
Meat processing plants have become hot spots for infections in communities across the country, but most have stayed open since President Donald Trump's executive order a month ago declaring them critical infrastructure. The United Food and Commercial Workers union said 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point since March, resulting in an estimated 40% reduction in pork production and a 25% reduction in beef.
The actual number of employees with the coronavirus is likely higher than the estimate, said Mark Lauritsen, director of the food processing and meatpacking division for the United Food and Commercial Workers International. The union compiled the figures from local union members who either received data from the meatpacking plant or verified infections with employees.