The men and women of the U.S. military pledge to defend the country against threats foreign and domestic.
This time, the threat comes in the form of a tiny but sometimes deadly enemy — COVID-19.
As the virus continues to infect workers across the nation, the American meat supply hangs in the balance as many meat processing plants have closed nationwide.
To assist with this looming crisis, Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called for 250 members of the National Guard to help keep her state’s meat processing facilities operational by assisting with contact tracing and testing to stop the virus in its tracks, according to Bloomberg News.
Guard soldiers were moved to federal full-time active duty to deal with fallout from the coronavirus. Keeping meat processing plants going in Iowa is important: About a third of the U.S. pork supply comes from the state, and the National Beef Packing Co. and Tyson have closed plants there.
“Today, more than 44,500 National Guard members are on duty battling COVID-19 across our nation,” the National Guard tweeted about its involvement in the fight against the coronavirus, along with its motto, “Always Ready, Always There!”
— National Guard (@USNationalGuard) April 27, 2020
China-owned Smithfield Foods has closed four meat processing facilities in the U.S. and implemented rolling production shutdowns on a fifth plant due to coronavirus at those locations, according to Newsweek.
Bloomberg News reported that other meat producers such as National Beef Packing Co., Tyson and JBS USA have shut down plants across the nation as well.
“We have taken aggressive actions to keep coronavirus out of our plant and keep this critical infrastructure,” Bob Krebs, president of JBS USA Pork, said in a statement.
Even with help from the National Guard, Tyson Foods continues to battle closures.
The company took out a full-page ad Sunday warning about the coming shortages.
“The food supply chain is breaking,” Tyson Foods warns in a full page ad in NYT today pic.twitter.com/5cyusH6L9V
— Ana Swanson (@AnaSwanson) April 26, 2020
“There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed,” John Tyson, chairman of the Tyson board, said in the ad.
The battle for America’s food supply is not over just yet, of course. Many hardworking men and women have become humble heroes as they show up to plants that are still operating with a little help from the men and women in uniform.
Not since the Great Depression have the nation’s food supply and economic situation been in such peril.
Thankfully, civilians are not alone in the struggle as the National Guard will be there to defend against the coronavirus enemy.
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