Rural COVID-19: The Tyson Food Clusters

There has been a lot of attention to the COVID cluster in the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, SD, which shut down after hundreds of workers became ill with COVID-19. One worker in the factory died.

But there’s another meatpacking plant that has had four deaths: a Tyson’s Food plant in Camilla, GA.

Four employees of a major poultry producer’s operations in rural southwest Georgia have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus, a company spokesman said Friday.

Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson said three of the employees worked at the company’s chicken processing plant in Camilla, while the fourth person worked in a supporting job outside the plant. He declined to say how many workers there have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus.


The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents 2,000 workers at the Georgia chicken plant, identified the three plant employees who died as women who had worked there for 13 to 35 years. A statement from the union said many plant employees are “sick or in quarantine.”

This factory is commuting distance — 30 miles — from Albany, GA, where a funeral on February 29 led to a significant cluster. It’s in Mitchell County, GA, which has a population of around 22,000, of whom about half are black. Camilla itself is about 5,600 people, of whom 66% are black. The poultry plant is the largest employer.

Coronavirus has spread to the next largest employer in town: Autry State Prison, which employs 500 people and houses 1,700 prisoners. 4 staffers and 6 prisoners have tested positive, according to official numbers. (And a County jail has 3 cases.)

While Tyson Foods has implemented some measures to slow the spread — including making masks mandatory — it still isn’t providing sick pay.

Gonzalez said the company has improved safety measures at the Camilla plant by checking employees’ temperatures, requiring workers to wear face coverings, installing dividers at work stations and providing more space in break rooms. He said the company in March had “relaxed our attendance policy to encourage workers to stay at home when they’re sick.”


The union has called on poultry processors to require employees to quarantine themselves for 14 days, and pay them sick leave, when they’re exposed to co-workers testing positive for the virus. It also wants individual departments to be shut down for 72 hours and cleaned after a worker tests positive.

The CEO of Tyson Foods, Dean Banks, is one of the CEOs Trump claims to be consulting on how to reopen the country. Yet his plants are responsible for two clusters of COVID.

148 of the workers in a Tyson pork plant in Columbus Junction, IA have tested positive, and two have died. 47% of the population in Columbus Junction are Hispanic and 12% Asian.

Tyson’s workers account for 89% of the cases in rural Louisa County. This story includes an anonymous family member of someone who works at the plant claiming that Tyson’s public comments about preventative measures at the plant are not true.

The relative of one plant worker, however, disputed that, telling Starting Line the company did not provide face masks to workers, still had people working in close proximity to each other, allowed workers to eat together in the break room, and that workers weren’t told of the infections until the day the plant shut down. Not wanting to disclose their name, they also noted the only changes made at the plant were taking employees’ temperatures as they came in, encouraging people to wash their hands, and displaying posters with information about the virus in multiple languages.

Trump and Tyson Foods seem to think these workers are expendable. But if food plants continue to cause clusters like this, it’ll not only shut down key parts of the food supply, but create clusters of COVID-19 in rural areas that are far less equipped to deal with it.

Update: Deleted a comment about Hispanic population in Columbus Junction per Peterr’s comment.

71 replies
  1. Tracie Goldman says:

    And Ohio is in the recovery phase of testing prison inmates for drug therapies. Its directly on the website.

  2. OldTulsaDude says:

    The best way to damage Trump is to ignore him. Everyone should know by now that the economic council is only another publicity stunt. The only surprise to me of his presidency is that he exposed how deeply racist we still are as a country.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      “The best way to damage Trump is to ignore him.”

      True… very, very true… not sure I’ve ever seen another human being who needs non-stop attention the way he does… he’s like a vampire seeking fresh blood nightly…

      As far as the racism goes, are you saying you’re surprised the country turned out to be so racist? Or that he’s the one who brought it forward from the shadows?

      I’m not surprised… I would say that I’ve seen that racism lurking endlessly, just under the surface, in far more people than I once thought I’d see… what Trump did was give those individuals license to come out and be very public and and very loud about it.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          Maybe you were surprised because perhaps you’re a good person and you don’t think like that (that there’s any possible justification for so much of this ugliness)…

          I didn’t like it when I started to see it… we (allow me the generalization here) tend to think of the south as the locus of racism in this country and more than one of my black friends has confided in private to me that California, where I live – the Bay Area to be more specific, is as racist as anyplace they’ve ever been.

          What they’ve said and I’ve learned to see is that out here, people aren’t openly hostile, they just don’t see blacks… what my black friends have said is that ‘we’ just don’t exist.

          Racism gets expressed in oh so many ways…

          One observation I’ve had over the last couple of years… the number of people of color I see in commercials has gone way up… anyone else notice that?

          I find this very interesting.

          • Philip S. Webster says:

            Yes, quite obvious now. The sellers know there is a more wealthy middle class black they are targeting.

        • e.a.f. says:

          I’m not surprised at all. Just look at the lousy infrastructure in black neighbours and the number of people of colour in jail. Not much has changed in the USA in the past 50 yr

  3. Peterr says:

    (though the Census only lists 16% of residents as Hispanic in the county, which may suggest many of the workers are undocumented)

    I’d be careful about generalizing the immigration status of the workers based on census data. First, the census counts people, documented and undocumented. Second, the Hispanic population in Louisa County is centered in Columbus Center and Columbus City, just a few miles to the southeast, which has a Hispanic population of 42%. These two towns had a Hispanic population in 2010 of 1075, which appears to be the vast majority of the Hispanic people in the entire county. There is also a sizable Hispanic presence in Muscatine County, just to the north, and it would not be out of the realm of possibility for folks to commute from there to Columbus Center.

  4. Yogarhythms says:

    Thank you for this tragic thread. “ Four employees of a major poultry producer’s operations in rural southwest Georgia have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus, a company spokesman said Friday.”
    Workmen’s Compensation for death at work should be pursued amongst other legal claims against employer.
    Pandemic SARS-CoV-2 clear and present danger and employer failed to protect workers. Plastic sheets are impenetrable. Aerosolized viruses don’t get embedded in plastic sheet they float around the barrier like all the other air molecules in the room.
    Taking temperatures outside a facility may identify a fever if Tylenol/Advil aren’t used. Inviting employees to infectious work environment of proven aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 infectious air floatation time of three hours per NIH study Medscape Medical News website without providing workers N95 masks is criminal negligence.
    President Trump by all means consult with these business managers for insights during pandemic.

  5. harpie says:

    Elizabeth Warren Retweeted The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
    4:24 PM · Apr 16, 2020

    Matt has survived COVID–19. Listen to his solidarity message for fellow construction workers & working people everywhere. “My time in there was the scariest in my life.” Congress, the labor movement has a question: Which side are you on? [VIDEO]
    [“This coronavirus pandemic has revealed the working class is essential and we need government that puts workers needs first.]

    3:20 PM · Apr 18, 2020

    I spoke to @JoyAnnReid about the Essential Workers Bill of Rights that I proposed with @RepRoKhanna this week to provide frontline workers the safety equipment, pay, & job protections they deserve in this crisis. Congress should #ProtectEssentialWorkers in the next package. [VIDEO]

  6. Kheights97 says:

    About 90 workers at the Tyson Foods plant in Goodlettsville (Tennessee)) have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Metro Public Health Department for Nashville and Davidson County. About 60 of the workers who tested positive for the coronavirus live in Davidson County, Metro’s health department spokesman Brian Todd stated in an email.

  7. e.a.f. says:

    I’m not surprised at all. Just look at the lousy infrastructure in black neighbours and the number of people of colour in jail. Not much has changed in the USA in the past 50 yr

  8. e.a.f. says:

    They have sick people working in these slaughter houses and then this product is shipped to stores so people can eat it. Yikes. I understand trump and these ceo types don’t care about the workers but endangering the customers is really stupid. From what I understand cooking is supposed to kill the virus but I sure won’t eat it. Bought all our meat before the virus hit Vancouver Island and we only buy local

      • bmaz says:

        Okay, this is bullshit. It is “believed” it is not transmitted by food, but that is not known with certainty. And even if so, that does not discount the appurtenances of food like servers and plates in restaurants and packaging if home. Don’t make statements you cannot establish, this is the wrong forum for that.

      • Rayne says:

        bmaz took it easy on you. I won’t because I don’t want to have to swat this down repeatedly and I don’t need this from a drive-by first-time commenter.


        There are two studies which note the highest concentration of ACE2 receptors are in the lungs AND in the ileum; the first study suggests that the gut may be a point of attack for SARS-CoV-2 as well as the lungs:

        The digestive system is a potential route of 2019-nCov infection: a bioinformatics analysis based on single-cell transcriptomes
        Hao Zhang, Zijian Kang, Haiyi Gong, Da Xu, Jing Wang, Zifu Li, Xingang Cui, Jianru Xiao, Tong Meng, Wang Zhou, Jianmin Liu, Huji Xu
        bioRxiv 2020.01.30.927806; doi:

        Hamming I, Timens W, Bulthuis ML, Lely AT, Navis G, van Goor H. Tissue distribution of ACE2 protein, the functional receptor for SARS coronavirus. A first step in understanding SARS pathogenesis. J Pathol. 2004;203(2):631–637. doi:10.1002/path.1570

        There’s this study which notes SARS-CoV-2 RNA appearing in faecal matter — how is it getting into the gut and staying there? We don’t yet know.

        Prolonged presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in faecal samples
        Yongjian Wu, Cheng Guo, Lantian Tang, Zhongsi Hong, Jianhui Zhou, Xin Dong et al.
        Published: March 19, 2020DOI:

        Unless you’re a researcher with a pre-print study and data, bring a citation to support such definitive statements as “You can’t get sick by ‘eating’ the virus” because right now, NOBODY knows for sure.

        • P J Evans says:

          My impression is that if it gets into the liver, it can get from there into the gut with little difficulty. (It could get to the liver via the bloodstream, I think.) But I’m not an expert, and I could easily be wrong.

  9. CapeCodFisher says:

    The people at the top unpoetically call these places “protein plants”. The place up north in Michigan provides something like 5% of the country’s meat. I heard that the virus isn’t capable of infecting someone through digestion, so not sure the product is causing problems. They should have had fever checkpoints right from the start.

      • P J Evans says:

        That’s bacterial contamination: E.coli usually. It’s not the virus, which really can’t get you through food.

        • TimH says:

          Understood. The point is that it is difficult to “not buy Tyson or Smithfield” at the supermarket.

        • Rayne says:

          Let’s not say that, PJ. There aren’t adequate studies yet about food-borne SARS-CoV-2. Remember the original source of contagion was a market for both SARS-CoV-1 and -2.

          What do know is that food sources are not the primary vector of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 as nearly all cases traced have been to human contact, indirectly or directly.

          • P J Evans says:

            I’d be very surprised if this one is transmitted via food – it seems to prefer airborne transmission. (In any case, cooking should limit it.)

            • Rayne says:

              PJ, I would still avoid making a sweeping statement about the virus being deactivated by cooking because not everybody cooks using a calibrated thermometer and a timer.

              Just let it go until you have studies with data. If you keep this up I’m going to pull out a study about the gut being a possible route of infection because the ileum contains the next most dense site of ACE2 receptors next to the lungs.

              • P J Evans says:

                sorry, I think I’m a little stir-crazy. Going to make masks, but I’m waiting on the thread to arrive (Tuesday, they say). Have various materials for ties (twill tape, double-fold bias tape – 9 yards of each – and grosgrain ribbon. Fortunately I had pretty fabric for the front sides.

                  • P J Evans says:

                    I’ve read about cosplayers making masks from Star Wars and superhero prints – and there are ones out there with cat faces (which work with the curved-face masks). I’m using a version of the pleated design.

        • eyesoars says:

          Perhaps it can’t infect you through food, but I wouldn’t count on it. COVID-19 certainly is happy to infect intestinal cells (both in vivo and in vitro), and diarrhea is a common symptom.

      • Rugger9 says:

        JBS has a plant in CO that (allegedly) had a “work while sick” expectation even after deaths from Covid occurred. They didn’t shut down the plant until 8 days after the first employee died (by then the count was four). Of course the management denies they expected employees to work sick, but the fact they still continued after cases were apparent and staff were dying says quite loudly otherwise.

        Watch what they do, not what they say.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thing is, Trump, McConnell & Co.’s economic responses to Covid-19 are not new. Covid-19 makes their consequences more visible, as much as it makes them more deadly.

    People are harmed every day because they can’t organize a union or demand safer workplaces; because they live alongside petrochemical plants, downriver from Teflon coating factories, or in Flint, MI; because their water is tainted by the toxic chemicals frackers pump into their groundwater; and because they work in an abattoir or Amazon warehouse, carefully situated in the middle of nowhere.

    They are harmed because they aren’t paid enough to live on stocking Wal-Mart shelves and cleaning toilets and cafeteria in for-profit hospitals and prisons; because they can’t afford health insurance or health care; and because their well-paid employers refuse to allow them paid sick time. They cope with being members of Homo economicus by taking opioids, drinking alcohol, and being cruel to those around them. Because others made exorbitant profits from the choices they are made to live with.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      And people are harmed every day when private equity absconds with every dime their employers have – be they the LA Times or the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Neiman Marcus or Toys “R” Us – giving them nothing in return but a debt load so heavy, no business could survive or prosper carrying it.

      • orionATL says:

        this is a tremendously important issue that can suddenly affect the livehood of many of us at any time. for one, foreign ownership can takeover companies with even less loyalty to employees than the normal american-owned business, though that is not the heart of the issue.

        the eviseration of the labor union movement during this golden era of republicanism (1980 to 2021) we have been living thru is partly responsible for this state of affairs, but failure to strongly regulate the use and abuse of corporation-buying thru own-debt and asset-stripping is at the heart of the problem.

        • Ken Muldrew says:

          Workers killed in labor disputes, 1872-1914:
          Great Britain: 7
          Germany: 16
          France: ca. 35
          United States: ca. 500-800

          The U.S. has never been very friendly to organized labour. Private property is sacred and once labour has been paid for, the fruits of that labour have become private property, owned wholly by the employer, with no remaining connection to the labour that produced it.

          That is American dogma and it has to change. Working cooperatively creates a surplus greater than the sum of the individual worker’s contributions, yet workers are only allowed to negotiate as if they were working in complete isolation. The surplus does not just belong to those who finance the work, nor even to those who are directly involved in the work since supply chains and interdependent networks of tools and expertise span the entire globe. The time has come to deal with the rich.

          • orionATL says:

            well said.

            or to use a simple-minded sports analogy, just because you decided to have a baseball team in your city and your access to big bucks allowed you to foot the bill for uniforms and a stadium doesn’t mean you will suceed in your venture – no players, no game. no games, no fans. no fans, no money. yes, it really is that simple, whether it’s baseball or facebook (wall street must ge delt with here too.).

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I agree with your point, but your statistics seem low enough to have come from a Republican governors’ conference. The years 1870-1914 saw several wars, insurrections (the post-Franco-Prussian Paris Commune comes to mind) and depressions (Ag and industrial).

            They witnessed the rise of the first Robber Barons, and enormous increases in manufacturing and concentrated financial power: Carnegie’s steel, Ford’s cars, Firestone’s rubber; railroad monopolies and motorcars; and the brutal and environmentally disastrous hard rock metal mining (Hearst) that come with them. They were powered by Rockefeller’s oil and by the banks of Morgan and Mellon.

            The era also gave rise to socialism, unionism, and violent labor disputes. No government in the world was more uniformly and violently behind capital and opposed to labor than the United States state and federal governments.

            The era saw Bill Haywood’s Wobblies, an open labor movement called the Industrial Workers of the World and Eugene V. Debs. His socialism and oppositional politics were as much the cause of his imprisonment as his First World War era pacificism. With both Kaiser-era Germany and labor activism crushed (e.g., Seattle General Strike, 1919), Warren Harding commuted an exhausted Debs’s ten-year sentence in 1921. He died not long after. Bill Hayward, like many, fled to post-revolutionary Russia.

            “Violent strike” was redundant. The lurid capitalist press depicted labor as the source of the violence, not the men in suits, and failed to cover the conditions that led to it. The names of a few stand for the many: Haymarket in Chicago, the Pullman Porters, the Homestead, PA, steelworkers, Ludlow, CO’s, coal miners, and Upton Sinclair’s meatpackers. Henry Ford incorporated a new subsidiary to coordinate his famously violent strike-breaking squads.

            Farmers’ cooperatives, such as the Grange, fought the banks over rapacious practices and inflationary vs. non-inflationary monetary policy. The latter protected capital, instead of the drivers of the then real economy, debtor-farmers. The conflict was captured in the phrase silver or gold, and in William Jennings Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech.

            By the turn of the century, inequality was so great a problem, Teddy Roosevelt – like his cousin a generation later – tried to help save capitalism from itself. The social conditions and unrest portrayed in Sinclair’s best-selling novel, the Jungle, for example, persuaded him to form a new federal department, the FDA.

            Cruel and violent inequality is not new, but it is more resurgent than it has been in a century. Nor is it new that capital works hard to tear down government rules that restrain its violent profit-taking. But in Trump and his neoliberal patrons, capital has a once-in-a-century opportunity to “liberate” itself.

            • Ken Muldrew says:

              The numbers are from Michael Mann (no shill for Republican governors, I promise you), The Sources of Social Power. Volume II. Quoting from just below the table, “The U.S. estimate range is that suggested by American Labor historians, although it may be an underestimate, because some of the many lynchings and shootings of southern blacks (excluded from my total) would have concerned labor disputes.”

              Anyway, we are in agreement that the rise in inequality since 1980 is more of a reversion toward the norm than anything new.

          • timbo says:

            Does that number of laborers killed in Britain include the British Empire or Ireland? Britain wasn’t so nice there.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Pacific Lumber was an early example, where an LA company Maxxam bought it out with heavy leverage, sucked it dry in management fees and then needed to clear cut to have any hope of covering their debt payments. That’s how the spotted owl became famous. It’s also what Bain Capital (and so many other vulture capitalists) are famous for.

        And IIRC these guys get favorable tax treatment for doing this stuff.

        • Bardi says:

          “And IIRC these guys get favorable tax treatment for doing this stuff.”

          We really should call it what it is, socialism just for the rich.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s a tweet thread Marcy retweeted earlier today:
      9:26 AM · Apr 19, 2020

      The U.S. economy has almost doubled in size over the last 40 years & a small portion of the population has pocketed most of the new wealth. The coronavirus pandemic is laying bare the unfortunate consequences of this glaring economic inequality. [screenshot]

      The after-tax incomes of the very rich have risen 420% since 1980, but over the same 40 years, after-tax income for the bottom half of earners has risen only 20%. […]

      If we had the same level of inequality as in 1980, every American household in the bottom 90% would be earning about $12,000 more—not just this year, but permanently. […]

      Greenhouse is referring to this NYT article from 4/10/20:
      America Will Struggle After Coronavirus. These Charts Show Why.
      David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez
      APRIL 10, 2020

  11. orionATL says:


    rural areas are not getting the attention their risk merits. many have poor residents. this combined with the slow demolition of their medical support systems over the last 20 years or so – both physician’s practices and hospitals – leaves them highly vulnerable to a fundamentally untreatable plague like the sars-cov-2 viral illness.

    southwest georgia is considered the poorest part of the state.** not surprisingly, it has a high proportion of blacks. in oft-seen contrast, it is also home to a number of elegant hunting and shooting plantations of some very wealthy americans.


    if it’s the chicken killin’, plucking, dressing business that is at issue then the gainsville, ga. about 20 mi. northeast of atlanta, off i-85 should be considered.

    google map of covid-19 cases in ga., no date provided:

    click on “world” and follow thru to u.s. then ga.

  12. Madwand says:

    Albany Ga has been a hot spot since the beginning. Kemp admits Georgia is behind the testing curve. It has been from the beginning when it was anemic, getting a little better now. On the website it seems like the numbers only inch up, in fact only one day did they have a surge so make what you will of that. Stacy Abrams might have a thought or two. Look in the Governors draw maybe where the absentee ballots are hiding.

    Note that it is not really hot, nor hot hot this spring with many mornings in the forties and very few days reaching the 80’s so a cold spring. If they are counting on the virus disappearing, magically, that may not happen. They are also behind in closing beaches and churches and many, to include employees, do not wear any protection in supermarkets along with bringing their kids.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Red state governors including Kemp have been dragging their feet on reporting as well, can’t make DJT look bad. So at least double anything they do report for a more accurate picture.

      • madwand says:

        Yep, just like centigrade to fahrenheit, double it and add thirty, in this case more like 3000

  13. madwand says:

    Quoted from a NY Times article about Germany’s response to Covid-19 “At home, however, the chancellor’s mixture of calm reassurance and clear-eyed realism — as well as her ability to understand the science and explain it to citizens — has been widely praised and encouraged Germans to follow social distancing rules. Her approval ratings are now higher than 80 percent” Trump doesn’t talk to Merkel anymore, does he?

    Wow Trump could have been a hero if only he listened. Germany where all Trumps ancestors are from apparently didn’t pass the genes down. Here’s the link.

    • madwand says:

      Another gal who’s doing well in the world Jacinda Ardern and provides another contrast to Trump. “one poll by the market-research firm Colmar Brunton in early April found that 88 percent of New Zealanders trusted the government to make the right decisions about addressing COVID-19, and 84 percent approved of the government’s response to the pandemic, in each case higher than what the company found in the world’s seven largest advanced economies, including the United States”

      The link

        • madwand says:

          She sure is, here’s what is going on in our world, it proves the government can move quick if there is a profit motive involved. Here a middle man WW Grainger acting for Dupont, gains a profit of $4.00 per suit made of Tyvek even shipping the raw product to Vietnam (US pays for the transportation) for sewing into suits and then shipped back, reducing time from 90 days to 10. Not a bad deal as Dupont does not contract with Federal Government, not sure since when lol.

          “All told the following players involved, President Donald Trump, the HHS Department, DuPont and FedEx all heralded the agreement last week” but failed to mention Grainger. I’m thinking they just had to get their ducks in line and this is why response is slow.

          • madwand says:

            Actually thinking about this there could be a “middle middle” man involved here. Just a guess.

      • orionATL says:

        what is level 4 ?

        a couple of weeks ago we had a long talk with friends who are new zealanders. they lived in the u. s. several years as they finished their graduate studies. we were their host family here, a wonderful experience with students from south and southeast asia.

        as always in these conversations the question of “what’s with the u. s. these days” was prominent. but this time they were preparing for a “level 4” experience and wanted to compare. ever heard that term before? prime minister ardern was about to put the nation thru that. our friends thoroughly approved of the move (and of ardern in general). this was apparently a fairly stringent set of government restrictions on movement. i had to confess i had no idea what level 4 even referred to, let alone involved – and explain that our government was waffling mightily on just what to do.

        a week later we learned from family in switzerland that the swiss were operating under a level 3 set of strictures.

        here is a fine everyman explanation of these levels, with first-rate graphics:

        do we talk about level 3’s and 4’s here in the u.s.? have i missed that? or is it a european concept? maybe it’s that such directness is not seen as a value among our politicians. i’m certainly tired of the tedious overuse of the inarticulate term “lockdown”.

  14. Zinsky says:

    Let’s be serious – the only thing Trump “consults” with these CEOs about is ‘how much money can you give me for my reelection campaign?’ (i.e. KAGA). The unelected criminal could care less about how many human fatalities this pandemic causes or who suffers, as long as he is reelected and can one step ahead of the SDNY sealed indictments that are awaiting him and his criminal family after he leaves the White House. He is counting on the statute of limitations to run or he will spend his golden years in the hoosegow.

    • Vicks says:

      It was beyond bizarre that it seems an actual part off “the plan” was for Trump to rattle the names of these CEO’s/companies off during his monologue portion of a covid rally.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The pictures of zombie protesters are everywhere, their faces distorted, angry, and pressed against the glass doors of shuttered state capital buildings. These pretend zombies claim to oppose forced closures of state economies. It violates their God-given right to buy fertilizer and go to the hair salon. (Confidentially, God tells me she favors neither.) It violates their liberty, which includes the right to kill themselves and their friends and family by spreading a deadly contagion.

    They would be funny, in a mad sort of way, were they not as dangerous as real zombies. Astute observers have noted that they are a put up job. They are led and paid for by some of the same patrons that funded the so-called Tea Party and other astroturf movements. Their protests are coordinated and generously funded. They target Democratic Party-led governments and discourage Republican leaders, like Ohio’s conservative governor, Mike DeWine, who might be leaning the wrong way.

    What are they doing? Grabbing the headlines, to protect Republican governors and Trump, who oppose shutdowns. They’re bad for an economy (a deadly contagion is good for it?), whose coattails they need to ride in on to stay in office (a declining prospect). They are spreading blame on Democrats the way a Tillamook dairy farmer sprays liquid manure. They need to do that in a hurry, before people recognize where blame belongs – with a corrupt, incompetent Trump and the people who back him.

    Mostly, they are robbing Democrats of a voice that says, “We’ve got this. If government does these things, they will work, they will help you, and because it’s not the problem. Relying on profit-takers do good is the problem.” Because if the Democrats were to do that, the neoliberal project of the past fifty years might go poof.

    • Rugger9 says:

      “Follow the money” never gets old, and also never fails to explain why DJT and his minions do things. Even the issue with Vlad is one of money, between DB laundering and propping up the Trump Org.

    • vvv says:

      I’ve been troll-fighting on the local news website – for some reason the majority of posters are redhat and there were some pretty egregious racists in recent days so I got involved – anywhat, I just exchanged a half dozen posts with a MAGAT who insisted the Michigan protesters – of whom he apparently did not approve – are liberal Dems.
      I wished him good luck and logged off.

      • orionATL says:

        good. go after the m’uckers hard. the more resistance they meet, the more self-consciousness and doubt their minds will have to contend with.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Red Hat is a Linux company, they’re involved in lots of Open Source software, and their products might even run this website… “Rednecks” or “magats” will do nicely, thank you.

        • vvv says:

          ““Rednecks” or “magats” will do nicely, thank you.” I agree, but they also get my posts stricken from this particular site – I live inna Repub (or as I say in my cups, “Rethug”) suburb of Chi.
          So “redhat” it is altho’ I use it as an adjective, ex., “redhat filter”, and it triggers just fine – apologies to the company.

  16. Mitch Neher says:

    The novel coronavirus is currently infecting and killing a fair number of the workers who make the essential functions of US economy run.

    The Governors’ stay-at-home orders and other mitigation efforts are currently saving the lives and the health of a great many people who do not make the essential functions of the US economy run.

    Allowing the novel coronavirus to infect and kill increasing numbers of people who do not make the essential functions of the US economy run will not restore any of the essential functions of the US economy. But may very well overwhelm the essential function known as health care provision.

    Such a policy could only restore the non-essential functions of the US economy such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment and . . . yes . . . hairdressing and the like.

    I don’t think that very many people are willing to risk death for a haircut.

    But I can no longer tell for certain when a given reductio ad absurdum is actually a straw-man fallacy, instead.

  17. orionATL says:

    this column is about a food corporation in georgia, not the state itself. but…

    georgia gov brian kemp has decided to re-open georgia, i.e., cancel his business closings rules, thus ending his anemic social distancing program:

    this move occurs without the kemp administration having met even our president’s standards for re-opening for business following temporary social distancing measures. i’m not aware of any unusual public pressure (like the astro turf demonstrations in michigan) to reopen being put on the governor.

    i have no idea what the governor is up to and why, but in my view brian kemp is a hard, ruthless, dangerous politician. i assume it is directly related to the yahoos with rifles to whom kemp is indebted.

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