Tracking COVID-19: Meat and Poultry Worker Case Rates Five Times Lower in December Than May, General Population Nine Times Higher

WASHINGTON — New analysis of independent data for 2020 show that reported new COVID-19 infection rates amongst meat and poultry workers were five times lower in December than in May, while rates in the general population rocketed up by nine times in the same period.  

According to data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN), the meat and poultry sector was reported to have an average of 19.91 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in December, compared to an average of 98.39 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in May. 

The New York Times reports that during the same period, the average new case rate for the U.S. population rose from 7.11 cases per 100,000 people per day in May to 63.01 cases per 100,000 people per day in December.

Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts commented:

“This new data further demonstrates that the more than $1.5 billion spent on comprehensive protections implemented since the spring reversed the pandemic’s trajectory and is protecting the selfless men and women who have kept Americans’ refrigerators full and our farm economy working throughout this crisis.

Meat Institute members stand ready to work with the Biden administration to continue using these proven measures and moving forward to vaccinate frontline meat and poultry workers as soon as possible and even assist in vaccine distribution for all Americans.”

The Meat Institute and the United Food & Commercial Workers, America’s largest food workers union, jointly urged state governors to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that frontline meat and poultry workers should be amongst the first to receive COVID-19 vaccinations after healthcare workers and people in long-term care.

The North American Meat Institute is the leading voice for the meat and poultry industry. The Meat Institute’s members process the vast majority of U.S. beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, as well as manufacture the equipment and ingredients needed to produce the safest and highest quality meat and poultry products.