COVID-19 and food industry, worldwide


This 28 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Workers call for closure of meatpacking plant to avoid COVID-19

Some employees at JBS Beef in Tolleson fear catching COVID-19.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 30 June 2020:

Lawsuit charges Tyson foods culpable in death of three workers at Iowa pork plant

A lawsuit on behalf of the families of three workers who died of COVID-19 at Tyson’s largest pork-processing facility in Waterloo, Iowa was filed June 25. Sedika Buljic, aged 58, Reberiano Garcia, aged 60 and Jose Ayala, Jr., aged 44, died during the period April to May from the coronavirus under conditions where the company knowingly put workers at risk.

The Spence Law Firm is charging that the company was aware of the spread of the virus to the Waterloo plant, but concealed the information. As the contagion grew, management failed to implement safety measures. Lastly, in what an AP report called an “explosive claim,” Tyson, “allowed workers and subcontractors from another Iowa plant that had closed due to a coronavirus outbreak to begin working in Waterloo in April. Plant supervisors told employees that their sick coworkers had the flu and warned them not to discuss coronavirus at work.”

In an April newspaper ad, the company’s CEO John Tyson issued a warning that coronavirus and plant closures were leading to a breakdown in the “food supply chain” and there would be meat shortages. Meanwhile, Tyson’s exports of pork to China during the same month increased.

COVID-19 increase at UK’s 2 Sisters, Rowan and Kober meat processing factories. By Tony Robson, 1 July 2020. Inadequate and unsafe forms of transport, poor working conditions, and rundown accommodation are class issues bound up with the wealth extraction demanded by capitalism.

From daily News Line in Britain today:

Super-exploitation in Covid-infected meat factories

THE LINK between outbreaks of Covid-19 at meat processing plants and the sector’s widespread exploitation of migrant workers on low pay and insecure contracts ‘must be addressed’, the union Unite said yesterday.

Although conditions within refrigerated meat processing factories have been cited as a risk factor for coronavirus transmission, Unite said there is also a direct correlation between the treatment of migrant staff as ‘disposable assets’ and the spread of the disease in such environments.

This is particularly true in meat processing factories that do not provide staff who need to self-isolate with company sick pay or any other form of financial support, as it increases the danger of individuals with Covid-19 going into work because they cannot afford to take time off.

The union also raised concerns about track and trace record keeping for agency workers, such as production line staff and cleaners, who often work at multiple sites and whose contact details may not be available or could be overlooked during infection control procedures.

Industry employment standards are also directly linked to overcrowded housing which is a contributing factor to the risk of outbreaks within factories.

A recent Unite survey of 20 per cent of the workforce at a Covid-19 impacted meat processing plant staffed overwhelmingly by migrant workers, found that 43 per cent of respondents live with two or more colleagues (at least three to a house) and 11 per cent live with five or more.

Nearly 65 per cent of the 150 respondents said they have attended work whilst unwell, with 69 per cent of those doing so because they could not afford to lose pay. Just 10 per cent of respondents said they have been tested for Covid-19.

Unite national officer Bev Clarkson said: ‘Exploitation driven by corporate greed is a major factor in the public health emergencies amongst meat processing plants here and in other countries.

‘Migrant workers, who often do not speak English and are scared to speak out because they fear losing their jobs, suffer under a relentless system that long pre-dates Covid-19 in which they are treated without dignity or respect. Exploitation is so rife within the sector that Unite is also concerned that some workers are vulnerable to modern slavery.

‘This issue is now being brought to public attention because of its impact on the UK’s ability to stem the virus. People can see that the treatment of staff in the sector as disposable assets is unjust, unsustainable and a danger to public health.

‘As a priority, employers and government must end the terrible situation where workers are having to choose between self-isolating or going into work because they cannot afford to be ill.

‘It is imperative that ministers and industry commit to a root and branch reform of the meat processing sector. The dire working conditions, low pay and insecure employment that blight the industry and have now come back to bite the nation’s efforts to defeat the coronavirus must be addressed.’

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

At fish processor ProFish in Twello in Gelderland province, 43 workershave been infected with the coronavirus in recent weeks.

”I can get another job. I can’t get another life”. Food processing plants in Ohio and New York hit with outbreaks. By Alex Findijs, 1 July 2020. Outbreaks at salad and fruit processing plants in Springfield, Ohio, and Oswego, New York, show the vulnerability of food workers to the deadly disease.

Russian soccer, Israel, Palestine, coronavirus pandemic news


This 17 April 2020 video says about itself:

As the surge in cases of coronavirus continues, cultural diversity has led to different approaches and even misunderstandings in the fight against #COVID19 around the world. As part of our determination to keep connected in this time of global isolation, we are joined by internet influencers from the U.S., the UK, Italy, Iran, Japan, and Israel.

Social influencer from Israel, Raz Galor, shares stories of mask donation between China and Israel.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen sharply, with 859 confirmed infections in the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, 980 cases, the Times of Israel writes.

That is the largest increase in one day since the outbreak began. The number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 25,547.

In another report, the Times of Israel reports that the Palestinian Authority is also concerned about the spread of Covid-19. A lockdown in the West Bank will apply for five days from Friday, a spokesperson said. All government buildings are closing and shops must also keep the doors closed, except supermarkets and pharmacies. Travel for nonessential reasons is prohibited during lockdown.

Also translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

The problems pile up in the football league of Russia. FK Orenburg refuses to continue playing under the current circumstances.

For the second time in four days, the club is absent from a competition game because of the many infections within the selection. Ten Orenburg players and staff members are already battling covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

FK Rostov, where six players tested positive and which had to quarantine the entire squad, gave way a week and a half ago under the pressure of the Russian Federation and sent a youth team against FK Sochi to fulfil their duty. The result was a record loss (10-1) and a Champions League ticket that is at risk.

Stand firm

At Orenburg, however, they stand firm. Then no football. “Such matches will not be of interest to fans and in our opinion will damage both our club and Russian football,” the statement said.

There are still five rounds to finish. Zenit Saint Petersburg is ahead with a street length, but for both the distribution of European tickets and the battle at the bottom, the mutual differences in the rankings are minimal.

Before the first cancellation, Orenburg already got a regulatory 0-3 defeat, which means that the club is now last in the highest division. The game against Ural would be played on Wednesday afternoon, about which the league will decide later.

United States COVID-19 news today


This 30 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Shutdowns across the US are picking up again as coronavirus cases spike. John Iadarola and Emma Vigeland break it down on The Damage Report.

“In an about-face, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey has ordered the state’s bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to shut down for at least 30 days amid thousands of new coronavirus cases in the state.

Ducey issued the order Monday to go into effect from 8 p.m. local time, citing concern over a recent spike in new cases — including a one-day record of more than 3,800 in the state on Sunday. It was the seventh time in the past 10 days that new cases in Arizona exceeded 3,000. He also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until Aug. 17.

“Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse,” he said, describing the state’s coronavirus data as “brutal.”

Most of the state’s bars and nightclubs reopened after Ducey’s stay-at-home orders expired in mid-May. The original order allowed bars with food service to reopen even earlier than White House guidelines recommended.”

OVER 500,000 PEOPLE HAVE DIED OF CORONAVIRUS Johns Hopkins University reported Sunday night that at least 500,000 people have now died of the coronavirus, a somber milestone as cases continue to surge throughout the United States and officials warn the pandemic is far from over. Over the weekend, worldwide coronavirus infections hit the 10 million mark. Infection rates in the U.S. remain among the most troubling in the world. Cases are surging in more than half of the states, prompting some governors to rein in reopening plans and to issue orders mandating people wear masks outside. [HuffPost]

DESANTIS DOUBLES DOWN Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Republican) insisted Tuesday that he would not reintroduce COVID-19 restrictions despite a resurgence of coronavirus cases following a reopening of the state’s economy. “We’re not going back, closing things,” the governor told reporters, adding that he didn’t believe the state’s economic reopening was the cause of the virus spread but rather that it was social interactions among younger Floridians. “I mean, people going to business is not what’s driving it,” he said. “I think when you see the younger folks, I think a lot of it is just more social interactions, and so that’s natural.” [HuffPost]

KANSAS CITY MAYOR CALLED RACIST SLUR AFTER DECLARING FACE MASKS MANDATORY Kansas City’s mayor said Monday that he was called a racist slur and told he should “swing from a tree” after he announced mandatory face masks in the Missouri city. Mayor Quinton Lucas, who is Black, on Twitter shared a screenshot of the texts, which came after he announced Friday that masks will be required in Kansas City when 6 feet (2 meters) of separation isn’t feasible. “You walked with RIOTERS not wearing a mask idiot,” a text read, according to a screenshot Lucas shared. “You should swing from a tree, I’m not threatening it, but would love to see it.” [AP]

MOST AMERICANS FAVOR MASK REQUIREMENTS Most Americans favor requirements to wear face masks in public, a HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. By 62% to 28%, Americans say they’d favor a government rule in the area where they live requiring people to wear a face mask when they are in public and around other people. By 69% to 24%, they say they’d favor local stores instituting policies that require people to wear a face mask while shopping. Support varies along partisan and demographic lines, with Democrats in denser areas most in favor of mask requirements and Republicans in less-dense areas the most resistant. [HuffPost]

EX-BUSH AIDE: ‘THIS IS TRUMP’S PLAGUE NOW’ The blame for the second spike of the coronavirus in the United States can be squarely laid on President Donald Trump, said an ex-speechwriter for former President George W. Bush. “The first coronavirus spike, in late April, can be blamed on President Donald Trump’s negligence. The second spike, in June, is his own doing,” David Frum argued Monday in a new column for The Atlantic. “This is Trump’s plague now,” he added. Frum noted how the earlier sacrifices made by people mandated to stay at home had been thrown away with the premature reopening of the country. [HuffPost]

PENCE CANCELS CAMPAIGN EVENTS IN FLORIDA, ARIZONA Vice President Mike Pence canceled campaign events in Florida and Arizona, as the number of COVID-19 cases in both states surge. Pence backed out of the scheduled appearances on Saturday, just a day after falsely claiming that the nation is “flattening the curve.” The U.S. reached a new record number of coronavirus cases — more than 42,000 — on Saturday. Florida had nearly 9,600 new cases, and Arizona tallied an additional 3,951 cases. This comes as reports are saying the Trump campaign peeled social distancing stickers off in the arena before the president’s Tulsa rally, and a GOP senator pleads with the president to wear a mask. [HuffPost]

EX-CDC HEAD: CASE SURGE DUE TO NEW SPREAD, NOT MORE TESTING Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the recent surge in coronavirus cases across parts of the country is the result of the virus’s spreading, not increased testing, as President Donald Trump has argued. “As a doctor, a scientist, an epidemiologist, I can tell you with 100% certainty that in most states where you’re seeing an increase, it is a real increase,” Frieden told Fox News Sunday. He added: “It is not more tests. It is more spread of the virus. … The numbers you’re seeing are just a tip of the iceberg of even more spread.” [HuffPost]

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

United States tourists are not welcome on Sint Maarten after all. The island would open again today for vacationers from the US, but that has now been postponed by two weeks because of the sharp increase in the number of coronavirus infections in the United States.

Earlier, the government of the French part of the island, Saint Martin, had already said that the border with the Dutch part would be closed if Americans would come again. As of today, tourists from Europe and Canada are welcome on the island again.

Citing COVID-19 spread, European Union denies US citizens entry to Europe. By Alex Lantier, 29 June 2020. The American ruling elite’s catastrophic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic is undermining Washington’s position overseas, with far-reaching implications.

OFFICIALS TRACE OVER 100 COVID-19 CASES TO MICHIGAN BAR At least 107 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been linked to a bar in Michigan. Some 95 people who visited Harper’s Restaurant & Brewpub in East Lansing June 12-20 have now tested positive for COVID-19, Ingham County Health Department announced Monday. A further 12 people “who were in contact with a primary case but did not go to Harper’s themselves” have also been infected with the virus, per a statement released by the department. This comes as cases spike all over the country, following Republicans’ push to reopen the economy. [HuffPost]

New York is ending its lockdown. I’m not sure I’m ready to end mine.

John Oliver breaks down COVID-tied eviction catastrophe “just around the corner.”

German slaughterhouse millionaire, no football boss anymore


This 29 June 2020 German video says about itself (translated):

Schalke fans protest against board member Clemens Tönnies

Football club fans have formed a human chain in front of the home arena in Gelsenkirchen. They demonstrated against the management of the association, which also includes meat entrepreneur Clemens Tönnies.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Controversial meat baron Tönnies resigns as director of Bundesliga club Schalke 04

Clemens Tönnies leaves as chairman of the board at Schalke 04 after almost twenty years, the German football club reports on its website. The 64-year-old businessman is under attack for the disappointing sports performance of Schalke 04 and the recent coronavirus outbreak at his meat factory Tönnies Fleisch.

Schalke 04 did not win the last sixteen Bundesliga matches, finished in twelfth place and again did not qualify for European football. It is the worst series in history. Even before the coronavirus crisis, the club from Gelsenkirchen balanced on the verge of bankruptcy. …

Coronavirus outbreak

Two weeks ago, a major coronavirus outbreak was diagnosed at a branch of the Tönnies meat factory in Rheda-Wiedenbrück (in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia). More than 1,500 people tested positive in the slaughterhouse, making it Germany’s biggest source of infection.

According to the authorities, Tönnies violated the coronavirus rules, endangering the entire region. About 7000 people had to be quarantined. In the slaughterhouses of Tönnies, many foreign workers work under appalling conditions.

Mr Tönnies also got much criticism, including by Schalke players, for his anti-African racism.

Online Tour de France cycling, 4 July


This 29 June 2020 video says about itself:

Official Virtual Tour de France 2020 – Cycling Race | Zwift

The Virtual Tour de France is coming to Zwift. The top men’s and women’s teams from across the world will compete for the ultimate prize. With Virtual L’Etape du Tour rides on new courses and high octane pro races to watch, this is cycling history in the making. #TDFVirtual

Watch the world’s best Zwift racers take on some ‘first-ever’ courses in the new France and Paris maps. Women and men pros are racing on Saturday and Sunday for three consecutive weekends beginning July 4th.

23 men’s teams and 17 women’s teams will participate.

Among the male participants will be former Tour de France winners Chris Froome, Egan Bernal, and Geraint Thomas. Greg Van Avermaet, Olympic champion and online Tour of Flanders victor this year, will also participate. Among the women, there will be Marianne Vos, Kirsten Wild, Olympic champion and 2018 world champion Anna van der Breggen, all from the Netherlands; and Chloé Dygert-Owen, from the USA, track cycling pursuit world champion.

The cyclists will ride on their home trainers at home. So, no coronavirus risk.

This virtual Tour de France will be six races, during the next three weekends. The start will be on 4 July: first the ladies, then the gentlemen. Both on a virtual hilly landscape based on the surroundings of Nice city in southern France.

The fifth stage will be climbing the famous Mont Ventoux mountain.

The sixth and final stage will be on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

TV stations in 130 countries will report about it.

The teams

Women

Alé BTC Ljubljana
Team Arkéa
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team
CANYON//SRAM Racing
CCC-Liv Team
Ceratizit – WNT Pro Cycling
Drops
FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
Lotto Soudal Ladies
Parkhotel Valkenburg
Rally Cycling
TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank
Trek-Segafredo Women
TWENTY20 Pro Cycling
Team Sunweb
Valcar Travel & Service

Men

AG2R La Mondiale
Arkéa Samsic
Alpecin-Fenix
Astana Pro Team
B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
Team Bahrain McLaren
Bora Hansgrohe
CCC Team
Team Cofidis
Circus-Wanty Gobert
Deceuninck – Quick-Step
EF Education First Pro Cycling
Groupama-FDJ
Israel Start-Up Nation
Team INEOS
Team Jumbo-Visma
Lotto-Soudal
Mitchelton-SCOTT
NTT Pro Cycling
Rally Cycling
Team Sunweb
TOTAL Direct Énergie
Trek-Segafredo

Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 second wave, Leicester, England


This 30 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

COVID-19: UK city of Leicester to remain under lockdown

Much of the English hospitality sector is due to reopen on Saturday, but pubs and restaurants in one city will remain closed for an extended period.

Government officials have recommended the current lockdown measures remain in force in Leicester for an extra two weeks, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports from Leicester.

See also here.

Broader reopening of UK schools leads to spread of COVID-19 infections. By Tania Kent and Tim Pearce, 30 June 2020. Recent outbreaks in schools almost doubled to 44 in one week—16 more than were recorded at hospitals.

“It’s eugenics by the back door”. UK disability campaigner Doug Paulley speaks on coronavirus pandemic. By Alice Summers, 30 June 2020. Doug has recently been involved in legal action opposing the use of “scoring” systems to deny ventilator treatment to the sick, disabled and elderly.

Think you won’t get coronavirus outside? Think again.

“They want to kill me”: Many COVID-19 patients experience terrifying delusions.

China bans Dutch pork because of COVID-19


This 1977 live music video from England is Siouxsie and the Banshees – Carcass.

The lyrics are about a slaughterhouse worker falling in love with a dead pig‘s carcass, leading to his self-mutilation and death.

Today, with COVID-19, slaughterhouse workers’ health and lives are endangered in a different way.

Not only the health and lives of slaughterhouse workers; also of people they may come into contact with.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

China has temporarily stopped importing pork from four Dutch meat corporations that have had coronavirus infections. China is holding back imports from multiple countries following the recent upsurge of the coronavirus in Beijing, the capital. According to the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture and the meatpacking sector, China may see imports of fish and meat from slaughterhouses where employees are or have been infected with the coronavirus as a source of infection.

The ministry is trying to change China’s minds.

Strokes and mental state changes hint at how COVID-19 harms the brain. New clues emerge about relatively rare, but potentially severe, neurological symptoms: here.

COVID-19 disaster in South America


This 29 June 2020 video says about itself:

Brazil COVID-19: Protests over Bolsonaro’s handling of outbreak

Groups of protesters in more than 20 countries and in Brazil’s main cities have called for the resignation of President Jair Bolsonaro, saying he is a threat to democracy.

The protesters called their international day of protest “Stop Bolsonaro”.

They criticized his erratic response to the coronavirus pandemic and what they see as threats against democracy.

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports from the Colombian capital, Bogota.

Health care collapses in Bolivia after coup regime reopens economy. By Tomas Castanheira, 29 June 2020. COVID-19 cases have tripled in Bolivia since the country began reopening economic activities less than a month ago.

COVID-19 and right-wing politicians, France and Britain


This 29 June 2020 video says about itself:

France ex-PM Fillon awaits verdict over corruption case

A verdict is expected in the corruption trial of former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

He faces up to five years in jail but says the scandal is a political smear campaign.

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler reports from Paris.

UPDATE: today, Fillon was sentenced to five years imprisonment, of which three years are on probation. His wife got three years on probation.

Now, to Fillon’s equally right-wing successor, Edouard Philippe.

Why scientists say wearing masks shouldn’t be controversial. Cloth face coverings help curb the spread of the coronavirus, studies suggest.

This French tweet is about right-wing Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at an election meeting.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who helped shape the coronavirus policy, surrounded himself in a room with supporters, without anyone wearing a mask. Then he called for ‘a party’.

Across the country, there were busy meetings where people cheered and cheered and where local winners took off their masks in sweaty rooms in front of the cameras.

When President Macron cast his vote, he was closely surrounded by crowded people. Macron‘s party, however, lost a lot of votes in the municipal elections.

Also from NOS radio:

Johnson: Now no investigation into what went wrong

British Prime Minister Johnson does not yet think it is the time for an investigation into what went wrong with tackling the coronavirus. … In the United Kingdom, after the United States and Brazil, most people died from the effects of a Covid-19 infection.

Johnson, who was in intensive care with a coronavirus infection, called the outbreak a disaster and a nightmare. Last week, he was criticized by a group of leading health care experts. They warned in an open letter that the country is insufficiently prepared for a second wave of contamination.

The call came a day after Johnson announced that from Saturday, July 4, the British will be allowed to go to restaurants, pubs and hairdressers’ again. The distance measure is also relaxed from two to one meter.

Coronavirus in United States soccer, Australia


This 10 June 2020 Mayor League Soccer video from the USA says about itself:

MLS Is Back Tournament! What You Need To Know About Return To Play

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

In the highest United States soccer league (Mayor League Soccer), twenty players tested positive for the coronavirus. The virus has also been diagnosed with six staff members. …

The remaining games will be completed during the MLS is back event, July 8 through August 11, at the Disney World complex in Florida.

Florida, a COVID-19 hotspot where infections are on the rise. Disney World, where the workers oppose the bosses’ dangerous premature for-profit reopening plans.

Also from NOS radio:

Australia reports the largest daily increase in coronavirus infections since April 11. 85 people have been diagnosed with the virus in the past 24 hours. Most new infections came to light in the state of Victoria.