Things That Matter

Covid-19 Cases Surge In Meat-Processing Plants As COVID-19 Spreads In Rural America

Meat processing plants have been at the center of the COVID-19 response conversation. The plants, many located in the Midwest, are crucial to the food supply chain to feed the country but outbreaks at these facilities have threatened that supply chain. Some closed to save the health of their employees but an executive order, with limited power, allowed for these plants to stay open.

The meat-processing industry is surprisingly small with 4 plants providing 80 percent of the meat in the U.S.

Workers at meat-processing plants have been testing positive for COVID-19 in April. The spread was quick and some plants began to shut down in late April and early May to avoid massive outbreaks in their plants. In early May, several plants closed to handle the outbreaks, including Tyson Foods, one of the largest pork-processing companies in the U.S.

New data shows that coronavirus cases are increasing in the U.S. meat processing plants. The numbers have tripled to 15,000 with 63 meat plant workers dying from the virus. Within a month, Tyson Foods, the country’s largest meat processing company, saw its number of coronavirus cases jump from 1,600 to 7,000.

The number of cases has spiked within meat-processing plants that have reopened.

In late April, President Trump signed an executive order that some people misinterpreted as ordering meatpacking and processing plants to remain open. What President Trump did was to order that meat and poultry plants are essential according to the Defense Protection Act of 1950. The DPA is used to compel manufactures to create “scarce and critical material essential to the national defense.”

The second thing the order did was to give the authority to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Perdue is responsible for keeping the meat processing and packing plants running during the pandemic. He has to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

As with some states, there are discrepancies showing in the data being released by the meat plants.

In North Carolina, the Smithfield meat-packing plant in Tar Heel is being elusive with their number of positive coronavirus cases. They are being assisted in the lack of transparency by state and local officials, according to The New York Times.

“There has been a stigma associated with the virus,” Teresa Duncan, the director of the health department in Bladen County, where the Smithfield plant is located, told The New York Times. “So we’re trying to protect privacy.”

A poultry plant in Arkansas was the cause of an outbreak in a Latino community.

In Arkansas, a community saw a spike in cases within the Latino community. The cases were coming from employees, their families, and their social circles. The one poultry plant resulted in 151 new cases in the Latino community of Dardanelle, Arkansas.

READ: Another Man Has Died Of Covid-19 In ICE Custody And The Agency Still Lacks Any Plan To Prevent More Deaths

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The Suicide Rate Of Retail Workers Sparks Trending Conversation On Reddit— “It’s unbearable.”

Things That Matter

The Suicide Rate Of Retail Workers Sparks Trending Conversation On Reddit— “It’s unbearable.”

MOHAMMED ABED / Getty

Despite their status as essential workers, retail employees have faced unbelievable amounts of pressure and abuse from the customers they serve. From facing indignant customers who refuse to wear masks to those who attempt to demean them for their work, it’s entirely safe to say that retail employees do not get paid enough for the jobs that they do.

A recent post on Reddit underlines this truth in some pretty shocking ways.

Check out the comments below.

“Low paid, long hours, usually very little control of your hours, working weekends and holidays and being forced to put up with a lot of abuse every day and not often too many avenues for promotion. I’m not shocked tbh.”- Foreign-Complaint130

“The worst part when I worked retail was the combination of “very little control of your hours” and the most fucking erratic schedule in the world. Not consistent day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month. Some days working 2 hours, others working 12. Some weeks you only get 3 days, other times you work for 3 weeks straight without a day off. Sometimes a manager would straight up forget to schedule you and that’s a whole week of pay gone.”- ledivin

“The shitty “performance metrics” created by those firms to “optimize” the workplace efficiency make it million times worse. corporate don’t have time to go over those numbers, so they just look at the graph and summary; regional managers dont want the graph to reflect bad performance, so they punish the local managers for dips in the metrics (bad reviews, lower q-to-q number), so the local managers punish the workers if any customer ever complained. overtime it created the vicious cycle and allowed bad customers to face zero consequences, enabling their abusive behaviors. those managers get away with such tactics because there is very limited workplace protection and there are always people who are desperate for work, so they don’t care about the turnovers.”- seimungbing

“Don’t forget having to deal with people coming in very last minute when you’ve been at work all damn day and just want to go home. I swear, people who do that shit are literal scum of the earth.”- tsalyers12

“The worst part about it is people will show up on holidays and make remarks like:

“wow they make you guys work on x holiday?”

And I always responded with “No, you make me work on x holiday.”

They’d probably give me the day off if people weren’t literally trying to spend money at a big box store on a holiday, so I have an unnatural hatred for people who think they should just run to the store on any major holiday.”- doomsdaymelody

“Not only that it’s now a prime target for shooting rampages. I have to watch the same video of “what to do in case of an active shooter” every so often. Each time I just think I don’t get paid enough for this shit.”- 

KresblainTheMagician

“I lost a friend that way. He was working long hours, and was already depressed. Then in the first months of the pandemic, people were particularly rude and abusive and his managers wouldn’t do anything and just overwork him. He was often yelled at by customers for things beyond his control.”- Asleep_Koala 

“I’ve never felt worse as a human being than working in customer service.

Being knowledgeable about the product and a willingness to help. Then getting constantly shit on by customers who’d turn me in to management then being forced to defend myself week in and week out for years..”-LoveIsOnTheWayOut

“I saved this guy $10 on an item by letting him know about an online coupon and did everything for him because he was older and didn’t understand tech much. After the transaction he counts his change and tells me I shorted him a dime. I apologized and gave him his dime. Before he leaves he tells me I should go back to school to learn how to count…”- Rabblerouser6

“I emphasize (meant to put empathize) with this. My “school in underwear“ nightmare is me serving tables or working retail again. I left those years behind long ago, but I still get bad dreams about those times.

Edited and leaving the original in because it’s funny”- Principal_B-Lewis

“I was very fortunate in my time in retail to only get three proper nutters.

I worked in the furniture department at Babies ‘R Us and a lady came in and asked if she brought in a sample of the furniture, could I identify it, match and and replace it?

I said I couldn’t, but I’d make an attempt to find it if it existed, but not to get her hopes up too much because we had a selection that rotated out pretty actively.

She seemed to think that was agreeable and then brought in an actual chip of wood (not a picture or a swatch) that was almost genuinely orange. However orange you could be without being painted that way.

All we had at the time was white, whitewash, a few brownish things and a reddish “cherry” brown. Nothing on the floor, so I looked through the special order catalog; nada.

She lost her mind and started swearing at me and called me deceitful and all kinds of other things.

The yelling attracted the attention of the assistant manager who stood there for about three seconds, long enough to go “Ah, this woman is batshit” and give me a sideways glance before saying, “____, I believe I can help this customer, can you do me a favor and go check on the Baby Italia stock in receiving?”

That wasn’t even specific enough to be actionable but I caught the hint, apologized to the woman for the misunderstanding and left.

Come to find out the chip wasn’t from baby furniture and wasn’t from our store. Amazingly, they actually found the thing based on other pieces she brought in which were marked, and found out it was from an old nightstand she bought in the ’70s (explains the orange).

That’s the burnout part for me. Not helping, not the confusion, not that the person has a genuine concern, but that they double-down on bad reactions unnecessarily while contributing nothing, and expect to not only be seen as reasonable, but that you’re a space alien for daring to deal with it in a professional manner based on your existing level of knowledge and training.

Hell, my department manager was like that. She never said a word to me, then brought me in to talk with both the manager and assistant manager, and complained my product fluency was lacking. At one point I said, “I wish you would have come to me first and let me know. I saw ____ the other day had a sash and a guidebook to learn about all the kinds of products, so I’ve felt kind of helpless, and when I asked you before about the best way to study up you said it was all by osmosis and experience.”

The managers cut things off right there because the first time I was finding out meant that there time was being wasted. Which meant she got pissed at me for being outed and claimed up and down she’d given me training materials before despite there being no evidence besides an assumption in her memory.”- credit_counselor

“I’ll say it every time, but when I was in retail (and this was many years ago) I could deal with the rude customers, what I couldn’t deal with was managers who forced you to enforce rules just so they could come skipping out of their office to say, “Oh we can do that for you!” and happily bend the rules so you could stand there looking like a jackass. Zero patience for that bullshit.”- shanthology

“Yeah, that part sucks. I got into this habit of being straight up with people about it.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been instructed by my manager that I can’t do that for you. But if you’re okay waiting, I can try and ask my head cashier or manager to help you.”

Sometimes they’d take me up on it, but there were plenty of times they didn’t. But I had a lot of good experiences because I figured out who to ask about what.” – YellowHammerDown

“This is the exact kind of company I’m working for right now. We have ridiculously strict policies about our products, to the point where I’m arguing with people more than not. Then I have to call my superior and they tell me to just make the customer happy. The fuck is the point of the policies if I’m just going to let things slide anyways????”- brahmen_noodle

“I still dread weekdays and have thought about quitting. Trouble is, my work experience lends toward interest from companies who need customer service workers. I feel completely stuck in a no-win scenario.

Try executive support, at least you’ll get paid well – even if you still have to deal with people who act like children, at least your customers have the money to go with the inflated sense of self worth.”- SpaceChevalier

“An old employer did this to me. I got a promotion doing back office work, and then one day they sent me back into Customer Service, because someone else went on maternity leave.

I was angry, depressed, and absolutely hated it. I made several complaints but they didn’t amount to anything. I applied for different jobs but didn’t hear anything.

I finally conceded I was stuck in life, and even when I would get moved back to my office job, there was no guarantee this wouldn’t happen again. So I went back to school. I spent 4 years working full time and being a full time student. I knew I needed a better resume (especially being an older college student), so I volunteered for everything at this crappy job. I become an invaluable team member. I was even given an award (lol) for being such a committed employee at an annual dinner.

And then I quit. My resume had a bunch of good stuff on it, I had a degree, and had lined up a new job with all these skills I had been working on.

The look my boss had on their face was priceless. They tried to counter offer but the new job was literally double what I was making and even more than my boss was paid so that wasn’t going to happen.

I’m not saying that path works for everyone, and it was a huge time commitment, but I was able to leverage all those awful customer service experiences for something positive. I hope you can do the same!”- Hambushed

“My first job as a teen was telemarketing. Awful idea. I did that for about 3 years.

I started developing high anxiety from the job but didn’t realize it. I ended up walking out twice because I just couldn’t do the job anymore. I was good at it, but I couldn’t bare the thought of being yelled at anymore.

A few years later I’m doing tech support because I want a career in the tech field. Nearly a year later I walk out of that job because I just couldn’t do it. I was good at doing the job, but I couldn’t bare the thought of being yelled at anymore.

Four years ago I try to do phone work again for a corporate ISP handling business internet, and I couldn’t last even a year. I’m almost begging my supervisors to let me train others on occasion because my anxiety is fucked whenever I’m on the phones. The supervisors didn’t give a single shit. So I started calling out often to avoid the anxiety. I was also going through a lot in my personal life and nearly committed suicide because it was all too much. The thought of ending my life seemed amazing compared to facing life for another day.

I walked out of that job ranked in the top 20 technicians out of 160 for 3 consecutive months after the supervisors gave zero shits about my performance. So I was good at the job, I just couldn’t bare being yelled at anymore.”- ilikethemaymays

“I’ve really, really been forcing myself to show patience during all of this. Part of that is the way I was raised, part of that was the decade-plus I spent in low level customer service jobs. I know how much these kinds of jobs suck under normal circumstances, and now you have idiots who won’t comply with mask orders and get upset when their favorite brand of Charmin is out of stock. Personally, I’ve noticed an increase in mistakes and even some rude behavior from people I interact with, but every time I’ve let it go. People under enormous stress all the time aren’t going to be at their best, the rest of us have to understand that. It’s not the guy running the register or the girl answering the phone who is at fault if things aren’t perfect.”- cugamer

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Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Entertainment

Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s 2021 and the Met Gala is back this year – after being canceled in 2020 thanks to a pandemic – with superstar poet Amanda Gorman being eyed to host the fashion event of the year. Given the 23-year-old’s show-stopping performance at the inauguration, the theme fittingly will be a celebration of America and American designers.

The Met Gala will return in 2021 with a very special guest as host.

Vogue’s “Oscars of Fashion” famously takes place on the first Monday of May. However, this year it’s been pushed back to September 13, in hopes that life will have returned to something closer to normal by then.

Epic poet Amanda Gorman is reportedly in talks to co-host the event alongside Tom Ford, who is the academy’s president. The breakout star of President Biden’s inauguration, Gorman is on the cover of the magazine’s May issue and the subject of a relentlessly glowing profile inside.

The black-tie gala, which raises funds for Met’s Costume Institute, is normally fashion’s biggest night and sees guests from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and even Maluma.

The event was canceled in 2020 thanks to a global pandemic.

The world’s most glamorous party was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, which was (and still is) raging the planet at the time. There was a virtual event in place of the 2020 event, with celebs like Julia Roberts, Priyanka Chopra and Amanda Seyfried showing off their looks from home and stars like Mindy Kaling and Adam Rippon taking part in the #MetGalaChallenge, recreating looks from past years.

This year’s event will draw inspiration from all things USA.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala has not been announced, but Page Six says the night will be devoted to honoring America and American designers, following the 18-month-long COVID crisis in this country.

Recent past themes for the event have included “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (2019), “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” (2018), and “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between (2017). And don’t forget 2016, when Zayn Malik wore robot-arms to Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

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