More coronavirus protection needed for meat plant workers: AFL-CIO president

President Trump ordered meat plants to stay open

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Workers at meat processing plants need more protection after President Trump ordered them to stay open amid concerns over growing coronavirus cases, Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO president said Tuesday.

In addition to protective gear, the union leader said that meat processors need more testing to keep workers on the job and healthy.

"We need more personal protective equipment because it is still in shortage," Trumka said. "We need more testing. We need to be able to test on a daily basis — when workers come into work, if one person has it, they can spread it to dozens."

CORONAVIRUS MEAT PRICES NEED TO BE INVESTIGATED BY DOJ, STATE ATTORNEY GENERALS SAY

The Smithfield Foods Inc. logo is displayed on boxes at the company's pork processing facility in Milan, Missouri, April 12, 2017. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Costco, Kroger and other grocery chains are rationing the number of meat customers can buy at one time as processing at U.S. meat plants has slowed down or stopped completely because of the coronavirus.

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Coronavirus has infected 115 workers at 115 meat and poultry processing plants in 19 states, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. More than 4,900 workers contracted the virus and 20 have died.

Major producers including Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods and Cargill had to shutter plants in April after workers contracted the virus. Now facilities including a Tyson Foods pork plant in Logansport, Ind., will begin to restart this week.

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