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Family of meatpacking worker who died of COVID-19 says bosses made him come to work sick

The family of a meat packing worker who died of coronavirus has filed suit against the company he worked for, claiming that he and other workers were told to report for work even after they called in sick.

Hugo Dominguez, 36, died on April 25 after he contracted the disease while working at the Quality Sausage Company in Dallas, according to the lawsuit filed by his family this week.

The plant ‘refused to take the pandemic seriously, and kept its functions as normal, taking no precautions and implementing no protocols for the safety of its workers,’ even after employees reported being sick by April 8, the lawsuit claimed, according to WFAA-TV. 

It comes as a new analysis of national data shows that more than 10,000 meat industry workers have tested positive for coronavirus, and at least 45 have died.

Hugo Dominguez, 36, died on April 25 after he contracted the disease while working at the Quality Sausage Company in Dallas, according to the lawsuit filed by his family

The plant (above) 'refused to take the pandemic seriously' and asked workers to come in even when they tried to call in sick,

The plant (above) ‘refused to take the pandemic seriously’ and asked workers to come in even when they tried to call in sick, 

Dominguez was one of two workers at the Quality Sausage Plant to die of coronavirus. The other was Mathias Martinez. Both men were in their 30s, but it was not immediately clear whether they had other health issues.

According to the lawsuit, Dominguez first started experiencing symptoms on April 15, but he and other employees were told to keep coming to work even after they called in sick.

Employees were also not given personal protective equipment nor asked to maintain six feet of distance from each other to slow the spread of the virus, the lawsuit alleges.

‘It’s hard,’ Dominguez’s fiancé Blanca Parra told the ABC affiliate. ‘I’m working hard every day to don’t break up myself because I have to be strong for my kids.’

Dominguez was ‘a man with a strong work ethic and deep commitment to his children and family, he continued to work till the day he just couldn’t go on, and a few days later he was gone,’ according to the lawsuit. 

Quality Sausage told DailyMail.com that it had not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit, and could not comment on pending litigation.  

‘The health and well-being of our employees is extremely important to us,’ the company said in a statement. ‘The spread of COVID-19 across the country and within our community is challenging all of us.’

The company said it has temporarily paused operations as it assess its response to the virus, and that it has ‘continually updated’ procedures to follow CDC and OSHA guidelines. 

Dominguez

Dominguez

Dominguez (left and right) was one of two workers at the Quality Sausage Plant to die of coronavirus. Both men were in their 30s

Dominguez is seen a family photo with his fiancee and loved ones. He died on April 25

Dominguez is seen a family photo with his fiancee and loved ones. He died on April 25

Some of the largest slaughterhouses and processing plants across the United States have been forced to close in recent weeks due to outbreaks among workers. Others plants have slowed production as workers have fallen ill or stayed home to avoid getting sick

Some of the largest slaughterhouses and processing plants across the United States have been forced to close in recent weeks due to outbreaks among workers. Others plants have slowed production as workers have fallen ill or stayed home to avoid getting sick 

Is meat from affected factories safe to eat?

Experts agree that there is little to no risk of contracting coronavirus from food, even from meat packing plants affected by worker outbreaks.

Coronavirus is transmitted mostly through close contact with contagious individuals.

‘Currently there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food,’ the USDA said in a statement.

The FDA says: ‘We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.’

As well, coronavirus is known to be quickly killed at temperatures above 135 degrees. Cooking meat according to instructions should kill any harmful pathogens present.

Meanwhile, a new study highlights the pervasiveness of the problem in the meat packing industry, which has seen critical facilities hit hard by the virus across the country.

At least 10,000 meat industry workers have tested positive since the crisis began, according to an analysis by USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. 

At least 170 plants in 29 states have had one or more workers test positive for the coronavirus. Some of those workers also have infected others, which is included in the count. 

The outbreaks have prompted at least 40 meat slaughtering and processing plant closures, which have ranged from as little as a day to indefinite.

The closures prompted President Donald Trump to sign an executive order giving the federal government sole jurisdiction over decisions to close or reopen the plants.

However, many of the plants remain closed under Department of Agriculture and CDC oversight. 

America's mounting meat crisis has been laid bare in pictures showing empty store shelves across the country after processing plants were forced to slow production or close

America’s mounting meat crisis has been laid bare in pictures showing empty store shelves across the country after processing plants were forced to slow production or close

The closures have spurred national shortages of beef and pork, with Kroger and Costco instituting limits on how many meat items a customer can buy.

Wendy’s locations in multiple states have temporarily removed beef hamburgers from their menus due to supply chain disruptions.

Customers have also seen prices rise sharply at the grocery store – but there is now some debate as to whether supply chains are to blame for the higher prices. 

Trump said on Wednesday he had urged the Justice Department to look into allegations that the meatpacking industry broke antitrust law.

The president pointed out that the price that slaughterhouses pay farmers for animals had dropped even as meat prices for consumers rose.

‘I’ve asked the Justice Department to look into it. … I’ve asked them to take a very serious look into it, because it shouldn’t be happening that way and we want to protect our farmers,’ the president told reporters at a White House event attended by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

‘Are they dealing with each other? What’s going on?’ the president asked.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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