Tag Archives: People

3 North Carolina police officers were fired after they were heard on camera making racist comments, including one threatening to 'slaughter' Black people in a new civil war

3 North Carolina police officers were fired after they were heard on camera making racist comments, including one threatening to 'slaughter' Black people in a new civil warJames Gilmore, Jesse Moore II, and Kevin Piner had been on the force for more than 20 years. Their conversations were caught on an in-car camera.

-



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Please follow and like us:

Pork Chops vs. People: Battling Coronavirus in an Iowa Meat Plant

Pork Chops vs. People: Battling Coronavirus in an Iowa Meat PlantOn April 10, Tony Thompson, the sheriff for Black Hawk County in Iowa, visited the giant Tyson Foods pork plant in Waterloo. What he saw, he said, "shook me to the core."Workers, many of them immigrants, were crowded elbow to elbow as they broke down hog carcasses zipping by on a conveyor belt. The few who had face coverings wore a motley assortment of bandannas, painters' masks or even sleep masks stretched around their mouths. Some had masks hanging around their necks.Thompson and other local officials, including from the county health department, lobbied Tyson to close the plant, worried about a coronavirus outbreak. But Tyson was "less than cooperative," said the sheriff, who supervises the county's coronavirus response, and Iowa's governor declined to shut the facility."Waterloo Tyson is running," the company said in a text message to employees April 17. "Thank you team members! WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!"Five days later, the plant was closed. Tyson said the reason was "worker absenteeism." As of Thursday, the county health department had recorded 1,031 coronavirus infections among Tyson employees — more than one-third of the workforce. Some are on ventilators. Three have died, according to Tyson.The plant didn't stay closed for long. As meat shortages hit grocery stores and fast-food restaurants, political pressure built to get the dozens of plants across the country that had shut down because of virus outbreaks up and running again. After an executive order by President Donald Trump declared the meat supply "critical infrastructure" and shielded the companies from certain liability, Tyson reopened its Waterloo facility Thursday.New safety precautions have been added, like plexiglass barriers along the production line, infrared temperature scanners to detect fevers, and face shields and masks for the workers.Now the question is: Will America's appetite for meat be sated without sickening armies of low-wage workers, and their communities, in new waves of infection?Workers and their advocates say Tyson's actions — and recent federal safety guidelines — have come far too late. They point to lapses that Tyson made in the first three weeks of April as the virus tore largely unimpeded through the Waterloo plant.As high-level executives lobbied the White House to help protect Tyson from lawsuits, the company was failing to provide adequate safety equipment to Waterloo workers and refusing the requests of local officials to close the plant, according to more than two dozen interviews with plant employees, immigrant-rights advocates, doctors, lawyers and government officials.While Tyson began changing its policies on short-term disability benefits in late March to encourage sick workers to stay home, many employees were not certain of the rules, and some went to work sick to avoid losing pay. Rumors and misinformation spread among workers, many of whom are not native English speakers. As the workforce dwindled, fear gripped the plant.Steve Stouffer, head of Tyson's beef and pork operations, said in an interview that the company had made the best safety decisions it could in a rapidly evolving situation. But he acknowledged that the company might have done more."Looking at it in the rearview mirror, you can always be better," he said.Thompson said that he was thankful for the new safety precautions but that Tyson had been too slow to act."Which is more important?" he asked. "Your pork chops or the people that are contracting COVID, the people that are dying from it?"'A Time of Fear and Panic'A squat gray building branded with the slogan "A Cut Above the Rest," the Waterloo plant is Tyson's largest pork operation in the United States, responsible for almost 4% of the nation's pork supply. Before the pandemic, it operated around the clock, breaking down up to 19,500 hogs a day into cuts of meat that traveled on a fleet of trucks across the country.It is tough, demanding work, usually performed by workers standing close together.During a conference call March 9, union leaders in the meat industry discussed how to spread out workers in plants and take other precautions to prevent an outbreak. But at the time, the problem seemed a long way away from eastern Iowa, said Bob Waters, president of the local union for the Waterloo plant."We thought it might come, but we hoped it didn't," he said. Iowa, like several other Midwestern states, never issued a statewide stay-at-home order.By early April, however, the Black Hawk County emergency operation center had started getting complaints about dangerous conditions at the plant.Workers and their relatives reported a lack of protective gear and insufficient safety protocols and said employees were starting to test positive for the virus.Tyson had put some precautions in place. In March, it began checking workers for fevers as they entered the plant and relaxed its policies so workers who tested positive or were feeling unwell would be paid a portion of their salary even if they stayed home.But workers were still crowded together on the factory floor, in the cafeteria and in the locker room, and most did not wear masks. Tyson said it offered cloth bandannas to workers who asked, but by the time it tried to buy protective gear, supplies were scarce.At least one employee vomited while working on the production line, and several left the facility with soaring temperatures, according to a worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, and local advocates who have spoken with workers at the plant.Because of patient privacy laws, Tyson and the union had difficulty obtaining information from state officials about which workers had tested positive — hampering their efforts to isolate colleagues in close contact with them.Older employees, as well as those with asthma or diabetes, became increasingly afraid of entering the plant."It was really a time of fear and panic," said state Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, who works at a coronavirus clinic in Waterloo. "They had not slowed the line down. They were not practicing any sort of social distancing."On the night of April 12, she said, nearly two dozen Tyson employees were admitted to the emergency room at a hospital, MercyOne.Tyson employed interpreters to communicate with its diverse workforce, which includes immigrants from Bosnia, Mexico, Myanmar and the Republic of Congo. But misinformation and distrust spread.One worker who died had taken Tylenol before entering the plant to lower her temperature enough to pass the screening, afraid that missing work would mean forgoing a bonus, said a person who knows the worker's family and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their privacy.Workers at the plant were confused about why so many colleagues seemed to be getting sick and missing work. Supervisors told them that it was the flu, some said, or warned them not to talk about the virus at work.In an emailed statement, Tyson said it had "worked with the information available to us at the time to help keep our team members safe." The company said earlier information from the Black Hawk County Health Department would have helped its decision-making.Dr. Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye, director of the Black Hawk County Health Department, said that before the state changed the rules on April 14 to help speed public health investigations, she was legally prevented from sharing the names of employees who had tested positive with the company. But she said that she had been in constant communication with the plant and shared her concerns."I think they had enough information," she said, "to take the necessary measures."A Vulnerable WorkforceIowa, an overwhelmingly white state, has long had a complicated relationship with meatpacking plants. While the industry is an engine of the state's economy and the country's food supply, it also employs many immigrants, who have faced periodic raids to enforce immigration laws.Even with union representation, immigrants at the plant say they are afraid to raise concerns about working conditions."The narrative is shifting the blame to the workers instead of focusing on the true incompetence, in my opinion, of the government — not just the governor, but also leaders here at Tyson," said Nilvia Reyes Rodriguez, president of the Waterloo chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "It was their responsibility to protect their workers."She added, "Because of the population in those industries, I think there is a disregard for those communities."Tyson said in a statement that it took pride in its diversity and that its immigrant workers have advanced to management positions, including at the Waterloo plant. But some of those tensions simmered as local politicians became locked in a struggle with the state and then the federal government over closing the plant.After Thompson's visit, he and other local politicians began lobbying Tyson and Gov. Kim Reynolds for a shutdown. The governor sided with Tyson. She issued an executive order April 16 stating that only the state government, not local governments, had the authority to close businesses in northeast Iowa, including the Waterloo plant."We're making sure that the workforce is protected and, most importantly, that we're keeping that food supply chain moving," Reynolds said.But the number of infections continued to increase. After Tyson closed the plant, the company invited workers back for coronavirus testing. But that process may have infected more workers, said Christine Kemp, chief executive of a local health clinic. Employees bunched together outside the plant and crowded the stairwells. Some left without being tested, afraid they would catch the virus in line.The virus had already spread through the community, including to a nursing home where several workers are married to Tyson employees. The Tyson employees who have died included a Bosnian refugee, survived by a grieving husband, and a man with three daughters. The mother died from cancer last year, and the oldest daughter, 19, will take guardianship of her sisters.A maintenance worker at the plant, Jose Ayala, 44, is lying unresponsive on a ventilator. Zach Medhaug, 39, a fellow worker, has been calling him to talk to him and play his favorite music.Medhaug also caught the coronavirus but has recovered and said he was ready to return to work. "But I'm also in a different position than some other people are," he said. "I'm over COVID. For other people, it's very scary."Reopening the PlantThe political stakes of the reopening in Waterloo are high.With meat supplies disrupted nationwide, the White House has pushed Tyson and other meat companies to continue operating. And Tyson officials have had plenty of chances to air concerns, dining at the White House and participating in several calls with the president and vice president in recent months.Since he issued the executive order April 28, Trump has been quick to declare that the supply chain is back on track.Asked Wednesday about a hamburger shortage at Wendy's, he turned to the secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue. "Basically, you're saying, in a week and a half, you think everything is going to be good, or sooner?" the president asked."Yes. These plants are opening as we speak," Perdue said."You're going to have to push them," the president replied. "Push them more."But the reopening may have to proceed in fits and starts. Tyson executives cautioned that it would take time to return to normal. The Waterloo plant reopened Thursday at about 50% capacity. And ramping back up could take weeks as workers return from quarantine.Stouffer, the Tyson executive, said he hoped the worst was over. But health officials warn that a rush to full production could cause a second wave of infections."History will be the judge, eventually," Stouffer said. "But we have attempted very hard — our entire team, our entire organization, from the chairman of the board on down — to do the right thing."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Please follow and like us:

As lawmakers battle over who is responsible for testing, Harvard researchers say the US needs to test 20 million people a day to 'fully remobilize the economy'

As lawmakers battle over who is responsible for testing, Harvard researchers say the US needs to test 20 million people a day to 'fully remobilize the economy'The plan emphasized three integral components to reopen the US, including sufficient testing, the ability to trace cases, and supported isolation.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Please follow and like us:

Animal shelters say in coronavirus lockdown people are looking for new friends

Animal shelters say in coronavirus lockdown people are looking for new friendsKelsey Pierce, a musician and songwriter in New York City, had always wanted to foster a dog with her roommate, Allyson Backus, but because of their busy schedules it was never a real possibility. Since all of New York is currently on a stay-at-home order because of the coronavirus pandemic, the pair were finally able to take on a furry friend. 



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Please follow and like us:

Black People Know: The Coronavirus Is No Great Equalizer

Black People Know: The Coronavirus Is No Great EqualizerAs an African-American, I always anticipated that the COVID-19 pandemic would disproportionately hit my community, and other communities of color the hardest. It was never an if, but a when. COVID-19 does not see race, color, or nationality; but it does attack the vulnerable and require the collective will of a society to stop. Communities of color have always been excluded, exploited, and vulnerable to attack in America, so it was inevitable that the coronavirus would come for us. Tragically, our society still needs data to prove the possibility of the inevitable, and now the data is pouring in.On CBS This Morning on Tuesday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is black, acknowledged that African-Americans are at a higher risk of COVID-19 due to systemic inequalities. He talked about how he is prediabetic, has heart disease, high blood pressure, and asthma—and he attributed his ailments to the “legacy of growing up poor and black in America.”‘I Could Get the Virus If I Vote’: Wisconsin’s Terrifying Election DayAdams was born in 1974, and is clearly a smart, hard-working, and accomplished man. He’s worked his way out of poverty, but the poverty he was born into and that makes him more vulnerable to the coronavirus is the legacy of Jim Crow and systemic racism. This was an intentional impoverishing and enfeebling of the black community that still poses a life-threatening danger to even the most accomplished African-Americans.In Louisiana, about 70 percent of the people who have died from COVID-19 are black despite only accounting for a third of the state’s population. Just this morning my mother sent me a text message telling me that our family friend Orlando (Skip) Wright, who lives in Louisiana, died from COVID-19. My mom has known him since they were both children growing up in the segregated South. They even went to prom together, long before she met my father.In Chicago, 72 percent of those who have succumbed to COVID-19 are African-American, despite making up less than a third of the population. And the majority of Chicago’s black population is concentrated on the South Side that has been a historically underfunded and neglected part of the city.In Milwaukee, another segregated Midwestern city, African-Americans make up less than 30 percent of the population, but account for nearly 75 percent of the deaths.Last week, The Atlantic reported that COVID-19 is especially lethal in the South, due to the endemic poverty of the region and the ensuing health complications such as obesity, heart and lung disease, and hypertension. These lethal threats are especially high amongst the black community in the South. None of this data should be a surprise because since the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, the white-dominated South has based its way of life around legitimizing the impoverishment, malnourishment, and oppression of black people.Yet the legacy of America’s previous horrors, only partially accounts for today’s tragedy. Incompetent Republican governors, such as Brian Kemp of Georgia and Ron DeSantis of Florida, have been slow to act and have left their states increasingly vulnerable. Last Thursday, Gov. Kemp publicly stated that he had only recently become aware that asymptomatic people could spread the coronavirus.Republican ignorance combined with their dislike of universal health care creates an inevitable crisis that will disproportionately harm communities of color. Kemp’s negligence, which is so egregious that is should be considered criminal, reflects nearly the entirety of the Republican response to this crisis at the state and federal level.Additionally, communities of color often fill the jobs that municipalities deem “essential” such as mailmen, and garbage collectors. They are unable to stay at home, and potentially expose themselves to the virus every day despite being the most susceptible to dying from COVID-19.The horrors of the past combined with the inequality and ignorance of the present creates a life-threatening crisis within the black community that Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot describes as “breathtaking.” And while the numbers are breathtaking, they should not be shocking. The alarming number of African-American COVID-19 deaths represents an American-made tragedy created by our society’s systematic disregard for black life.Just as data confirms the possibility of the inevitable, data can also provide Americans with the information to change our status quo and create a more equitable society.Right now a group of Democratic lawmakers, Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren; and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, are calling on the department of Health and Human Services to provide comprehensive racial data regarding the spread and impact of COVID-19.“Any attempt to contain COVID-19 in the United States will have to address its potential spread in low-income communities of color, first and foremost to protect the lives of people in those communities, but also to slow the spread of the virus in the country as a whole…. This lack of information will exacerbate existing health disparities and result in the loss of lives in vulnerable communities,” they warned in a letter sent to HHS.The tragedy befalling America’s black community is both American-made, and impairing our capacity to prevent the virus spreading. Yet despite the importance of this information to protect black, and all Americans, no one expects the Trump administration to act on this vital need. But Joe Biden must act.Biden was left for dead in the presidential race, but his support amongst black voters catapulted him to an almost insurmountable delegate lead in less than a month. Black voters could put him in the White House, but we will need to know that he has our back during a time of crisis.Biden needs to join forces with his fellow Democrats and get vocal about how the pandemic is disproportionately harming communities of color, and what he plans on doing to address this crisis.The disparity in death rates does take your breath away. But if the end result remains inaction from both sides of the political aisle and a continued normalization of systemic inequality, America may never recover from COVID-19.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Please follow and like us:

Wawa sent a 53-foot refrigerated truck to store bodies of people who died of COVID-19 in New Jersey, as morgues and funeral homes struggle to keep up with the rising death toll

Wawa sent a 53-foot refrigerated truck to store bodies of people who died of COVID-19 in New Jersey, as morgues and funeral homes struggle to keep up with the rising death tollWawa provided a 53-foot refrigerated truck to the state of New Jersey to store the bodies of people who have died of COVID-19.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Please follow and like us:

A Wuhan seafood vendor believed to be one of the first coronavirus patients says 'a lot fewer people would have died' if the Chinese government acted sooner

A Wuhan seafood vendor believed to be one of the first coronavirus patients says 'a lot fewer people would have died' if the Chinese government acted soonerWei Guixian, a 57-year-old seafood vendor in Wuhan, China, was among the first 27 people to be diagnosed with the coronavirus.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Please follow and like us:

Coronavirus: Sinister people are knocking on doors claiming to be part of official disease response, police warn

Coronavirus: Sinister people are knocking on doors claiming to be part of official disease response, police warnScammers are knocking on people's doors and claiming to be part of the official response to the coronavirus, police in New Jersey have warned.The people could then try and take advantage of anxiety around the spread of the disease to sell products at inflated price or otherwise try and scam anyone in the house, authorities warned.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Please follow and like us: