meat producer testing positive for coronavirus. The employee and six more from the McComb, Mississippi, plant were sent home to self-quarantine, with pay, but operations continued as normal.
A few days later Smithfield Foods Inc., the world's biggest pork producer, confirmed a positive case at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, facility. In all likelihood, the numbers will keep going up at meat plants, farms, warehouses and packaging factories across the globe.
The infections speak to a growing threat to the world's food supplies. Massive operations where workers pick berries together, cut meat side-by-side on a production line or load warehouse trucks in sometimes close proximity risk slowing down. Some facilities may have to shutter for cleaning and worker quarantines. Produce could end up rotting in fields if there aren't enough healthy workers.
"If we can't flatten the curve, then that is going to affect farmers and farm laborers -- and then we have to make choices about which crops we harvest and which ones we don't," said Al Stehly, who operates a farm-management business in California's North San Diego County, growing about 250 acres of citrus crops, 250 acres of organic avocados and 60 acres of wine grapes. "We hope no one gets sick. But I would expect some of us are going to get the virus."
To be clear, the food from a plant where infection pops up doesn't pose health concerns because by all accounts COVID-19 isn't a food-borne illness. Supplies from a farm or a production plant with a confirmed case can still be sent out for distribution.
And it's important to note that so far there's been no major interruptions to food supplies. Inventories are still ample, and major bottlenecks have not yet developed in the supply chains, which tend to react quickly to changing situations.
Still, there is a risk to continued production. When a worker gets sick, the employee and every person they've come into contact with has to be quarantined. That could mean limited impact in some cases, like at the Sanderson factory, where the infected individual's work was contained to one small processing table. But the more employee mingling there is, the bigger the threat to production.
"One of our beef plants feeds 22 million people per day, so it's vital that these plants stay open," Dave MacLennan, chief executive officer of Cargill Inc., the world's largest agricultural commodities trader, said in a recent Bloomberg Television interview.
At many meat-processing plants, workers are "essentially elbow to elbow," said Thomas Hesse, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401, the largest private sector union in Western Canada that represents 32,000 members, mostly in food processing and retailing. Though employees are usually wearing protective gear, the risk of contagion is difficult to completely eliminate.
"There's underlying tension, there's fear and there's anxiety," Hesse said, calling on employers to act more diligently to keep workers safe, including by increasing the space between work stations.
Moves like that would likely hamper output though. It's a tricky balance for producers who are prioritizing worker safety but also trying to meet the huge surge in demand that the virus has unleashed. Grocery store shelves across the world are running empty as consumers load their pantries in anticipation of long lockdown periods.
Just about every major agricultural and food producer is stepping up its sanitary procedures to keep workers from getting infected. Companies are enforcing hand washing, spraying down plants and break rooms and wiping down door knobs. Workers are covered in head-to-toe protective gear, shifts are staggered and lunch breaks are taken alone.
In Sabah, the state that churns out about a quarter of Malaysia's palm oil, the local government ordered plantations and factories in three districts to shut after some workers tested positive for COVID-19. To avoid further disruption, the country's industry is in a desperate bid to "starve the virus," disinfecting tractors, providing workers with antibacterial body soap and distributing face masks to employees and their families, said Joseph Tek, CEO of palm-oil producer IJM Plantations Bhd.
It's hard to say if all that will be enough. Given the real possibility of an illness-driven labor crunch, some companies are stepping up hiring now to prepare.
Steve Cahillane, CEO of Kellogg Co., said bringing in additional workers is part of the company's "mitigation plans," without specifying how many employees have been added.
"We're going to see some creative solutions where folks that are being laid off are going to be able to find new opportunities that continue to support the essential critical infrastructure," said Mary Coppola of the United Fresh Produce Association. Many food companies will be trying to aggressively hire, including in distribution centers and in retail stores, she said.
But it may not be that easy to lure people into the field. For all their import, these are not glamorous jobs.
Think of the back-breaking work of tomato pickers, the dangerous conditions at slaughter houses and what many would consider the unpalatable environment of large livestock-feed operations. The wages are often low, benefits meager and contributions hidden from the public eye: How many social-media posts have you seen bursting with appreciation for the grain-export inspectors?
Now they're putting their health at risk by keeping food flowing. Not surprisingly, there's been some backlash. Unions in South America have threatened to strike over safety concerns. And some poultry workers in the U.S. recently walked off the job.
Food companies are ramping up efforts to make sure employees feel appreciated. Cargill, Maple Leaf Foods Inc., Campbell Soup Co., Mondelez International Inc., Kraft Heinz Co. and Hormel Foods Corp. are among those paying bonuses or premiums to workers.
In some places, more unusual solutions are being deployed.
Dairy producers in Vermont recently put out a call through social media, asking for volunteers to come milk cows if farmers start falling ill. A day later, more than 80 relief milkers had signed on as standbys.
"It started when we got a couple of calls from dairy farmers who were super worried they might get sick and wouldn't be able to milk their cows, and that would be it -- they'd lose their farms," said Kim Mercer of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, which posted the online plea. "We now have people everywhere all across the state who are ready to go."
America Is Now The COVID-19 Epicenter: The U.S. Just Had 17,224 Newly Confirmed Coronavirus Cases In A Single Day!
This article was sourced from InfoWarsAs I write this article, headlines all over the globe are announcing the fact that the United States now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than anybody else in the world.
Two weeks ago anyone that would have predicted that the U.S. would be the world leader in confirmed cases by the end of the month would have been relentlessly mocked, but now it has actually happened, and experts are warning that the worst is yet to come.
On Thursday, 17,224 newly confirmed cases were added to the rapidly growing U.S. total. If you can believe it, only six other countries have had more than 17,000 total confirmed cases over the course of this entire pandemic.
So the explosion of cases that we are witnessing in the U.S. right now is exceedingly alarming.
We need to stop committing suicide out of an irrational fear of COVID19 like the nurse in Italy. Govt mandated lockdowns threaten our supplies of food & medicine by created panic & hoarding — and it’s LIBERTY that sustains us, not stock market or federal government
On March 1st, we learned that the state of New York had their very first confirmed case of the coronavirus.
Now there are tens of thousands of confirmed cases in the state, and things have already gotten so bad that more than one patient is being put on a single ventilator machine…
At least one New York hospital has begun putting two patients on a single ventilator machine, an experimental crisis-mode protocol some doctors worry is too risky but others deemed necessary as the coronavirus outbreak strains medical resources.
The coronavirus causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19 that in severe cases can ravage the lungs. It has killed at least 281 people over a few weeks in New York City, which is struggling with one of the largest caseloads in the world at nearly 22,000 confirmed cases.
What we have watched transpire in New York over the past couple of weeks is absolutely unprecedented, anda top CDC official is warning that what we have seen therecould soon start happening all over the country.
Just like in New York, cases in California have been doubling “every three to four days”, and this has officials in the stateenormously concerned…
If that rate holds, California hospitals could see a surge in patients in one to two weeks, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Services, said during a Facebook news conference.
“We originally thought that it would be doubling every six to seven days; we see cases doubling every three to four days,” Ghaly said. “[We’re] watching that trend very, very closely.”
Sadly, the rate of growth is even faster in New Orleans, and it is expected that their hospitals will be completely overwhelmedby early April…
New Orleans is on track to become the next coronavirus epicenter in the United States, dimming hopes that less densely populated and warmer-climate cities would escape the worst of the pandemic, and that summer months could see it wane.
The plight of New Orleans – with the world’s highest growth rate in coronavirus cases – also raises fears that the city may become a powerful catalyst in spreading the virus across the south of the country. Authorities have warned the number of cases in New Orleans could overwhelm its hospitals by April 4.
But so far less than 2,000 Americans have died during this pandemic.
If our healthcare system can’t handle what is taking place now, what is going to happenif tens of thousands of people start dying…
The coronavirus pandemic could kill more than 81,000 people in the United States in the next four months and may not subside until June, according to a data analysis done by University of Washington School of Medicine.
The number of hospitalized patients is expected to peak nationally by the second week of April, though the peak may come later in some states. Some people could continue to die of the virus as late as July, although deaths should be below epidemic levels of 10 per day by June at the latest, according to the analysis.
Actually, I think that this projection is quite optimistic, but it sure would be nice if it was accurate.
So far, there have been no signs that this global pandemic is abating. In recent days the numbers have actually accelerated, and many are wondering what will happen if we continue to see exponential growth in the weeks ahead.
On Thursday, the total number of confirmed cases in the entire world crossed the 500,000 mark for the first time. As we race toward a million confirmed cases, it seems likely that lockdown orders will remain in place all over the globe.
This is the greatest public health crisis of our time, and it is already taking a tremendous emotional toll on people all over the planet. On Thursday, I was absolutely horrified to read about a great tragedy that just happenedin the United Kingdom…
A 19-year-old woman in the UK has committed suicide after being “unable to cope with her world closing in” following the coronavirus lockdown.
Emily Owen, who suffered from high functioning autism, gave an eerily prescient warning to her family days before her death, saying that “more people will die from suicide during this than the virus itself.”
She died in hospital on Sunday after attempting suicide on March 18th. Owen’s family said that the suicide attempt was driven by the teen’s fears over social isolation.
Sadly,calls to suicide hotlines are absolutely soaringin the United States too.
This shouldn’t be happening, but right now so many people out there feel like they don’t have any hope.
If only they understood that hope is just a prayer away.
On March 6th, a Georgia man named Clay Bentley tested positive for the coronavirus. At first it wasn’t too bad, but then his symptoms really started to get quite severe.
Eventually he felt like he “couldn’t breathe at all”, and he feared that “he was not going to survive”.
But when he was at his lowest moment,a miracle arrived…
“I got to the point I couldn’t breathe at all. I had cold chills. I had no energy,” Bentley told Insider. “I’d go to stand up to walk up across the room, I couldn’t even go from a sitting to a standing position.”
Bentley said that by Wednesday night, he felt like he was not going to survive. He was in pain and struggling to breathe.
Then at 3 a.m., he felt a heavy pressure on his chest, Bentley described.
“I felt this man breathe life into my lungs,” he said.
Bentley says that God completely and totally healed him, and now he has a renewed passion to tell others about Jesus Christ.
If you believe that you have caught the virus, start praying and ask others to start praying for you as well.
God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He will bring us through this horrible, horrible pandemic.
This article was sourced from NewsMax America