Features, Health and Safety, New York, Retail

Food Industry Heroes

May 4, 2020

By Neal Tepel

New York, NY – Those working in a grocery and drug store as well as a meatpacking plant are now on the front line of a dangerous war against COVID-19. These workers are heroes providing critically needed food and pharmaceutical supplies to all of us living in this great country.

Employees in the food industry during this pandemic crisis are continually at risk. Their jobs require close contact with other workers or the public and their lives are threatened every day. While not doctors or nurses, those working in food and pharmacy facilities are coming in contact with the sick as well as the healthy – with those carrying a virus or not. On April 28, 2020, Supermarket News reported there were 72 deaths of UFCW members that worked in grocery, retail, pharmacy, or meatpacking industries.

Workers at the grocer’s checkout are particularly at high risk for infection. They cannot maintain six-foot separation from customers. Cashiers touch every item being purchased by both shoppers and employees.

Meatpacking plants across the country have become COVID-19 hotspots. When the virus gets inside a facility, it spreads like a fire and threatens every worker. Social distancing isn’t easy at plants where employees stand shoulder to shoulder on a production line cutting chickens, pigs or cattle, or packaging foods for transport. A recent CDC report on May 1, 2020, stated that 4,193 workers in 115  meat processing facilities throughout the U.S have contracted COVID-19. 

Workers in supermarkets, drug stores, meatpacking operations are now today’s unsung heroes. These brave men and women have stepped into the limelight during a crisis of vast proportion with deaths rising every day.

While not usually recognized for the important role they play, they are now one of our First Responder Heros in a war that has claimed the lives of almost 70,000 Americans.

May 4, 2020

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