The COVID-19 shutdown has revealed a lot about what is valued by those in power.

Recently, our president has said that our meat processing plants are essential businesses and that they must remain open. These plants are exploding with new cases and there have been numerous deaths of line workers from COVID.

These are poorly paid people, often new immigrants. They die so that people can have a burger.

Part of the reason we have diseases like COVID is that the meat industry on the whole is rotten. Factory farming, where animals are kept in abusively close quarters, is why we get these diseases. Animals are pumped full of antibiotics, raised as quickly as possible in horrible conditions and then sent to a meat plant where they are slaughtered for the enjoyment of all.

This is not meant to make anyone feel guilty about eating meat. But please think about where that meat came from. Most of it comes to your store in this way.

Concentrated hog farms produce more fecal waste than many large cities do, except it doesn't get treated like a city waste system. It gets put in lagoons and then often spread over fields as fertilizer. This contaminated waste eventually gets into our water supply.

On top of all this, workers at these plants are being forced to go back to work. It's essentially a death sentence. And while the CEO of Tyson foods pleads in full page New York Times ads that his company is hurting, I doubt you'll see this multi-millionaire working the chicken line in any of his factories.

You see, the ultra-rich aren't the ones that suffer during this pandemic. It's the poor , the sick and the jobless. So while we see TV ads that warmly say we are all in this together, it's just a myth. The rich are sending meat packing employees to work in conditions that will mean death for many of them. That is all you need to know about the priorities of the rich during this pandemic.

What can those of us that are not in that upper 1 percent do? Take care of each other and take care of ourselves physically and emotionally. Turn off the TV, get outside and work for a more just world.

The old ways were not working. We need a new and more just way.

Tim Melin

City of Verona

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.