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Donald Trump is being urged to let slaughterhouses remain shut after numerous workers have become infected with the coronavirus.

The U.S. President signed an executive order yesterday to compel the facilities stay open during the pandemic.

A number of the plants have been forced to shut recently due to worker infection: according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, there have been at least 4,135 positive reported cases linked to meatpacking facilities, covering 75 facilities in 25 states. In addition, at least 18 workers have been reported to have died, covering nine plants. These numbers are accurate up until April 27.

‘Liability’

Now Trump has signed the executive order telling reporters that the slaughterhouses closed because of ‘sort of a legal roadblock more than anything else’ adding that the order solves ‘liability problems’.

The move has been unpopular with unions, with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union saying: “We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork and poultry products.”

Petition

It has also been unpopular with animal advocates, with vegan charity PETA launching a petition calling on Trump to ‘reverse the executive order and keep slaughterhouses closed since they not only put workers and the public health at risk but also cause the violent, bloody deaths of billions of animals every year’.

The charity says: “Since the beginning of this month, 18 slaughterhouses operated by meat companies such as JBS USA, Tyson, Smithfield, and Cargill have shut down after reportedly over 5,000 workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus and more than a dozen have died.

“Now, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order requiring slaughterhouses to remain open and will try to protect them from legal liability.

For the sake of human health and in behalf of the animals destined to be slaughtered and the migrant and other workers who are treated like scum in these slaughterhouses and whose families are more at risk than in almost any other job, PETA asks the nation to rise up and shout a resounding “NO” to keeping slaughterhouses open at this time.”

You can find out more about the petition here