Conservation, farm worker groups press Cooper on coronavirus transparency

Posted June 17, 2020 9:57 p.m. EDT
Updated June 17, 2020 10:09 p.m. EDT

The Tyson processing facility in Wilkesboro, N.C., on May 24, 2020. Hundreds of workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at the plant (Jacob Biba/ Carolina Public Press).

— A coalition of environmental and farm worker advocacy groups called on Gov. Roy Cooper's administration Wednesday to release more information on coronavirus outbreak at meat plants.

The groups also said the governor should require plants to test all employees repeatedly and have any who test positive self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

They want hospitals to collect occupation data on all positive tests and for the state Department of Health and Human Services to release cases by employer, something it has not been willing to do.

"The department’s responsibility should be to the public and not the industry here," the groups said in a letter.

"We are concerned that lack of transparency, testing and mandatory safety protocols threaten worker safety, the public’s health, community welfare and the environment, requiring your immediate intervention," the groups said.

Representatives from 18 entities signed on to the letter, including the North Carolina Conservation Network, Yadkin Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, Episcopal Farmworker Ministry and Student Action with Farmworkers.

Cooper's office and DHHS didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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