WASHINGTON – Data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) show that reported new COVID-19 infection rates among meat and poultry workers are 60% lower than in the general US population. FERN reported an average of 32.64 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases per 100,000 workers per day in January 2021, an average 66% lower than the average of 98.39 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in May 2020.

According to the New York Times, the average new case rate in US general population increased to 78.59 cases per 100,000 people per day, more than 11 times higher than the new case rate in May.

“Meat and poultry workers are substantially less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than the general population as a result of the comprehensive protections instituted since the spring of 2020, when the pandemic’s impact on our sector peaked,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). “Meat Institute members are fully committed to continuing these proven measures and moving forward to vaccinate front-line meat and poultry workers as soon as possible and many can even assist in vaccine distribution for all Americans.”

Both NAMI and the United Food & Commercial Workers urged state governors to follow federal guidance and prioritize frontline meat and poultry workers for COVID-19 vaccination. As a result, many management teams at plants and processing company executives took steps to educate workers about vaccination and facilitate employee access to vaccinations. More information on case rates and health and safety measures, including vaccination is available here.