America’s meat shortage is more serious than your missing hamburgers

Adam Clark Estes in Vox:

If you go to Wendy’s this week, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get a hamburger. Go to the supermarket and you’ll probably see some empty shelves in the meat section. You may also be restricted to buying one or two packs of whatever’s available. Try not to look at the prices. They’re almost definitely higher than what you’re used to.

This is the new reality: an America where beef, chicken, and pork are not quite as abundant or affordable as they were even a month ago. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the meatpacking industry hard, as some of the worst virus outbreaks in the United States have occurred in the tight, chilly confines of meat processing plants. Standing elbow-to-elbow, workers there — many of them immigrants, in already dangerous roles and making minimum wage — are facing some of the highest infection rates in the nation.

Sick workers mean meatpacking plants are shutting down, and these closures are contributing to a deeply disruptive breakdown in the meat supply chain.

More here.