WASHINGTON – Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), the chairman of the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, recently announced an expansion of the group’s investigation of COVID-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants.

Clyburn sent letters to executives at Cargill and National Beef Packing Co. about the subcommittee’s intent to investigate the companies’ overall handling of the pandemic.

The subcommittee originally investigated the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), Tyson Foods Inc., Smithfield Foods Inc. and JBS USA, focusing on responses to COVID-19 in February.

“We are concerned that the scale of coronavirus infection in American meat processing plants may have been greater than previously believed,” Clyburn wrote to both companies. “These concerns are reinforced by both our initial investigation and press reports alleging that meatpacking companies failed to take adequate precautions to protect their workers’ health during the pandemic—endangering workers, their communities, and the nation’s food supply.”

In his latest request, Clyburn asked the two companies for all communications between them and several federal agencies and departments between March 1, 2020, and June 1, 2020, including the US Department of Agriculture, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the subcommittee’s findings, National Beef had at least 1,424 workers infected with COVID-19. The group also said Cargill had 1,394 workers infected.

Clyburn asked that the companies to respond to the inquires by Sept. 20. 

Cargill and National Beef did not respond to request for comment at the time of publication. 

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