The report states that meat processors have misled the public and affected the Trump administration

The report also details how industry representatives called on senior Trump administration officials to discourage workers from staying home and soften federal guidelines in response to the spread of coronavirus at meatpacking plants.

For example, in an April conference call, the CEO of a meat company asked the then Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, to communicate with workers the President or Vice President, “COVID-19 fear is not a reason to resign from your job, and if you do, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.”

At a White House news conference four days later, Vice President Mike Pence asked the food workers to “appear and do your job” and assured them that “the government is working with all your companies to make sure your offices are safe.” ,

Mindy M. Brahills, former undersecretary for food safety in the Department of Agriculture, describes the report as a “fixer of choice” for the meat packing industry. The report states that Ms Brahills sometimes used her personal phone number and email to contact industry representatives – which may violate record-keeping rules.

Neither Mr Perdue nor Ms Bressers responded immediately to requests for comment.

Documents obtained through the House Committee show that Smithfield officials contacted senior officials in the Department of Agriculture in April 2020 to recommend changes to the Federal Health Advisory on their South Dakota facilities.

The final CDC guidelines include qualifications such as “if possible” and “as far as possible” compared to the original version obtained by The Washington Post.

Dr. Robert Redfield, former CDC director, told the committee that he added the qualifiers “because Mr. Perdue was convinced of his concerns about the industry and his understanding of the impending meat shortage”.

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