The true number of cases and deaths at meatpacking and processing facilities is unknown, as many of these workplaces did not require cases to be reported. But at least 59,000 meatpacking workers contracted Covid, with 269 dying in 2020, according to a U.S. House report released in October. The report found that the Covid cases were triple earlier estimates put out by the Food and Environment Reporting Network, a news organization that covers the food industry.
The report found that meatpacking companies failed to safeguard employees’ health by continuing to employ practices that led to crowded facilities. The report named five of the largest meatpacking companies including Tyson, which saw 151 employee deaths; JBS, which lost 62 employees; Smithfield, which lost 25 employees and Cargill, which also saw 25 people dying of Covid. Six workers from National Beef also died.