Hundreds of USDA meat inspectors are getting sick

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Inspectors sent by the USDA to meatpacking plants are a vital part of the American food system. Those inspectors are tasked with making sure worker and product safety guidelines are being followed at plants across the country.

A report from the Government Executive detailed some of the unsafe practices that are being used, stating that the Food Safety and Inspection Service is not providing masks to its inspectors, instead telling them to purchase their own cloth masks.

The report also shows that the FSIS has been sending inspectors from plant to plant, even those that have been shut down for COVID-19 outbreaks. Inspectors were told to continue to report for work unless they show symptoms, even though the CDC says asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers can infect others.

The FSIS has not released how many of its inspectors have tested positive for the virus, though there are reports that put the number over 100, with at least one death. Currently, inspectors are still being rotated through plants, which is how they operate under normal circumstances.

Dozens of plants have closed across the country amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but some are planning to reopen after disinfecting the facility and testing all employees.

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