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Another USDA Inspector Dies of COVID-19 at Meat Plant
USAgNet - 05/18/2020

A fourth food safety inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture has died of COVID-19 as cases continue to surge at meat processing plants across the nation. reports that nearly 10,000 COVID-19 cases have been linked to workers at the plants and their contacts, according to a recent analysis by USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. The cases involve about 170 plants in 29 states. At least 30 workers have died. Of the 30 counties in the U.S. with the highest per capita COVID-19 cases last week, 10 have major meatpacking plants.

The latest inspector to die worked in Dodge City, Kansas, Paula Schelling, of the American Federation of Government Employees, told Bloomberg. The man was in his 50s, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The other three food safety inspectors who have died of COVID-19 worked in New York, Illinois and Mississippi, the union told the newspaper.

As of Tuesday, 123 USDA food safety and inspection service workers were under self-quarantine because of suspected coronavirus exposure. An additional 171 field employees were absent from work because of a COVID-19 diagnosis, according to a USDA statement, Bloomberg reported.

A statement from the USDA said it could "confirm the passing" of an inspector but did not reveal the cause of death.

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