SALISBURY, MD. – In a Dec. 10 letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Randy Day, chief executive officer of Perdue Farms, urged the agency and governors of states where the company operates to prioritize meat and poultry workers, their families and co-habitants.
Following the lead of several meat industry associations, Day said vaccines should be available to front line workers just after healthcare workers and those working and living in long-term care facilities. According to the CDC, Phase 1b of the vaccination plan would include 87 million essential workers, which Day and others said should include those working in US meat and poultry processing plants.
Day urged the CDC and the 15 governors of the states where Perdue operates meat and poultry processing facilities to put those people at the top of the list for vaccines and work together on a distribution plan.
“To truly stop the spread of this virus, and to protect the men and women who continue to support our economy and food supply through their essential work, meat and poultry employees – and those who live with them – must be able to receive a vaccine as quickly as possible,” Day wrote.
Additionally, Day said that many of Perdue’s facilities are located near state borders which means workers and their family commute from one state to another.
“For this reason, a patchwork of state policies that prioritizes different groups may do little to stop community spread if people are traveling between states on a frequent basis,” Day said.
Perdue Farms later offered to support state and federal health officials in a “multi-lingual educational and outreach efforts regarding the vaccine.”
“Our teams communicate daily to a diverse workforce in which more than a dozen languages are spoken,” Day said in the letter. “We also have deep relationships in the communities our associates call home, having worked directly with local political, religious and business leaders.”
Along with the CDC, Perdue sent letters to the governors of California, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.