Va. AG calls for more protections for poultry plant workers

Posted at 1:28 PM, May 12, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is calling for additional protections for poultry plant workers.

"These are people. They're not machines," Herring told News 3 on Tuesday.

Last month, President Trump signed an Executive Order to keep the plants open amid concerns about the food supply chain. The CDC has issued safety guidelines, but they're voluntary.

"Right now he's provided some voluntary guidelines, but those guidelines should be mandatory and there should be an enforcement mechanism," he said.

Herring thinks the employees should get priority testing, adequate PPE, and should be paid if they have to be quarantined. "This virus is so contagious," he said.

A few weeks ago workers protested calling for the plants to be closed. Since then, Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms have tested all employees and put in additional safeguards, including partitions between employees. A team from the CDC also recently examined the plants.

With the additional testing, health officials believe they are controlling the outbreaks. "Those outbreaks have been trending down," said Dr. Norman Oliver, the State Health Commissioner.

Going forward, Herring is calling for a balance between safety and essential work.