Perdue asks Gov. Northam to prioritize poultry workers in vaccine rollout


(WAVY) — As the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine nears in the United States, Perdue Farms is making a plea for help.

Perdue Farms, which operates four poultry plants in Virginia in Accomac, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Prince George, sent letters Thursday to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The letter to Northam asks for meat and poultry workers and their families to be given priority access to vaccines. According to the letter, there are 3,081 Perdue employees in Virginia alone, and 21,000 across the country.

According to the letter, the CDC allows states to prioritize which essential workers get the vaccine and in what order.

“To truly stop the spread of this virus, and to protect the men and women who continue to support our economy and food supply through their essential work, meat and poultry employees—and those who live with them—must be able to receive a vaccine as quickly as possible,” the letter reads.

The letter also says many Perdue employees live in one state but work in another, suggesting states should work together on a vaccine prioritization plan.

In April and May, poultry plants became a focus in Virginia as coronavirus outbreaks occurred among workers. Many cases in Accomack County were linked to the Perdue and Tyson Foods chicken plants, which are the county’s two biggest employers.

Northam acknowledged the problems at the commonwealth’s 12 poultry plants, including those on the Eastern Shore, where COVID-19 cases spiked this spring.

In May, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring was one of 20 attorneys general to call on President Donald Trump to take immediate action and protect the health and safety of meat and poultry plant workers in America.

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