COVID, the Shutdown, and Processing Plants

The scientific facts and understanding of COVID have evolved as more is learned. In medicine, we evaluate the optimal course of action by weighing risks and benefits. Let us take a look at the current situation as it relates to a full and complete reopening of pork and beef processing capabilities.

The scientific understanding of COVID:
— The CDC currently estimates the risk of death from COVID as 0.3% (3 people in every 1,000) of those infected. This is lower than the 1% risk estimated only a few short weeks ago.

— All Americans will ultimately be exposed to COVID regardless of any measures they might take. The concept of “flattening the curve” is an attempt to spread out the exposure of the virus over a longer time frame.

— There is still no known highly effective treatment for an established COVID infection in any given patient.

The political presentation of COVID to the public has greatly exaggerated the risk of COVID presents to average people. As of June 8, 2020, there have been 242 deaths in MN in patients outside of nursing homes/long term care facilities according to the Minnesota Department of Health statistics. Consider that there are approximately 45,000 deaths overall per year in MN from all causes. Common sense suggests that the risks of COVID do not justify a virtual shut down of Minnesota’s economy.

Pork and beef producers have been hit especially hard by the closing down of processing facilities. The politicians who have shut these facilities down have not had to bear the devastating financial and psychological effects of having to euthanize (i.e. kill) healthy animals for what amounts to purely political purposes. Based on weighing the knowledge at this point, these facilities ought to be operating at full capacity.

The political leadership of the Republican Party has been AWOL and virtually silent on this issue, as our producers and communities dependent upon them are being devastated. Upon weighing the risks and benefits, it is time to take a bold stand to fully reopen our processing plants and to reopen fully the state of MN.