Major mobile billboards are being driven around an Irish city today to highlight how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting slaughterhouse workers.
The boards circling Dublin, which have been created by vegan charity PETA, say: "No one needs to kill to eat. Close abattoirs and meat factories: save the workers, their families, and the animals."
They are a response to reports that meat processing plants in Ireland have become COVID-19 'hotspots'.
According to PETA, coronavirus outbreaks have been reported at 16 Irish plants, with over 800 workers infected with the virus so far.
One-third of workers at Rosderra Irish Meats plant in Tipperary have tested positive for COVID-19, but, PETA says, 'the facility remains open – meaning animals continue to be killed, while workers continue to be put at risk'.
PETA cites 'frigid temperatures and cramped conditions' in the facilities as a reason for the outbreaks. Non-profit organization the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine concurs, saying that as workers are lined up in close proximity, viruses are easily spread within the slaughterhouse environment.
The reports coming out of Ireland follow a top analyst branding U.S. meatpacking facilities 'COVID-19 hotpots' as infection levels within the facilities outpaced the rest of the country.
According to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, which has been compiling data of the positive cases and deaths, as of May 26, there have been at least 16,600 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 197 plants in 32 states, and at least 64 reported worker deaths at 32 plants in 19 states.
'Blood-soaked, offal-strewn meat-processing plants'
"A deadly disease that originated in a meat market is now sweeping through blood-soaked, offal-strewn meat-processing plants and endangering workers, their families, and the whole community," PETA director, Elisa Allen, said.
"No one needs meat – that’s why PETA is calling for these filthy facilities to be shut down immediately, for everyone’s protection."
The charity adds that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that 'approximately 75 percent of recently emerged infectious diseases affecting humans originated in other animals'.