Friday, May 8, 2020

What's Up with Wicomico County?

I saw an unusual warm spot for WuFlu on the Maryland Coronavirus site, that turned out to be Wicomico County, with 533 cases today, compared to around 100 or less for all the other Eastern Shore Counties:

When I saw that I was suspicious, and a little googling proved my hunch was right, the Balmer Sun: Maryland’s Eastern Shore traces coronavirus outbreak to poultry plant workers — sounding warnings about food supply disruptions
Maryland officials identified a coronavirus outbreak among Maryland poultry workers this week, sounding warnings about potential disruptions to the food supply chain as concerns about meat shortages loom large across the country.

Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that 262 poultry workers in the state have been infected with COVID-19 — a cluster that has hit hard in the Eastern Shore city of Salisbury, home to Perdue Farms and identified this week by The New York Times as one of the country’s worst COVID-19 infection sites.

The region’s economy hinges largely on Perdue Farms, a major processor of chicken, pork and turkey and one of the biggest employers in Wicomico County. The company operates its headquarters and a chicken processing facility in Salisbury, with other nearby plants in Sussex County, Delaware, a jurisdiction that the U.S. Census Bureau considers part of the city’s metropolitan area.
Nearly 2 million chickens at Eastern Shore farms set to be destroyed because of coronavirus-related plant shortages
Every poultry plant on the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes Maryland’s Eastern Shore as well as Delaware and part of Virginia, has struggled with reduced worker attendance because of cases of the COVID-19 illness, testing for the virus and people following guidance to stay home if sick, according to Delmarva Poultry.

The association said one company has become the first on the peninsula to turn to “depopulation" amid the health crisis. It’s taking the measure as a last resort after exhausting other options, the group said.

"Depopulation has been done in the past on Delmarva and in the U.S. in response to cases of infectious avian disease,” said James Fisher, a spokesman for Delmarva Poultry.

Salisbury-based Perdue Farms, which like other poultry processors has installed temporary partitions at all facilities and given workers face masks, is not depopulating farms, said Diana Souder, a company spokeswoman.
Get ready for higher chicken prices to come.

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