Workers march after virus outbreak at Utah meatpacking plant
LOGAN, Utah (AP) — Workers at a Utah a meatpacking plant and their supporters protested the company’s handling of a coronavirus outbreak that has resulted in nearly 300 confirmed cases.
JBS USA employees held a demonstration in Logan Tuesday against conditions at the plant in Hyrum.
The Bear River Health Department said 287 JBS workers tested positive for the virus at a May 30 screening.
About 100 employees walked out of the JBS parking lot Monday morning. A group of about 30 gathered in downtown Logan Tuesday with signs decrying the company’s treatment of workers.
“They are making it seem like money is more important than our lives,” Monique Ramos said. “We produce meat for everyone across the country. We deserve to be valued.”
JBS spokesperson Nikki Richardson said the company is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding social distancing.
Workers who tested positive May 30 can return to work Wednesday if they do not have coronavirus symptoms, Richardson said.
“No one is forced to come to work, and no one is punished for being absent for health reasons,” Richardson said. “If any team member is fearful of coming to work they can call the company and inform us, and they will receive unpaid leave.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.