With the Amarillo region being a hotspot for Covid-19 and the coronavirus, Mayor Ginger Nelson has requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aid in the city's response to the pandemic. When you hear that the CDC is coming to town, it certainly makes you perk up and ask what exactly is going on. One of the major reasons the Texas panhandle has seen an increase in Covid-19 cases, are due to outbreaks at several area meat packing plants.

While those plants are not in city limits, many of the workers live in Potter County. There is also an increased worry from area residents in Randall County as busses shuttle workers to and from plants north of Amarillo. I was caught off guard this past weekend as I pulled into the Walmart parking lot on Georgia and Canyon Drive and was met with half a dozen busses unloading people. I did not realize at the time that these were shuttle busses from the meat packing plants. I am not overzealous when it comes to the virus, but this was certainly a concern for me with the amount of people in a small area of the parking lot. City officials have stated that in some cases it is difficult for the meat packing plant workers to socially distance the way they need to in order to slow down the spread. It was presented during a press conference that in many cases, the households the workers live in are very small and crowded.

The primary role of the CDC will be to asses the situation at the plants and provide advice to the meat packing plants and community leaders on how to keep the virus from spreading and growing. Along with collecting data, the CDC will also set up a network of information to trace the positive cases and their contacts in the community. So far, over 40% of the positive Covid-19 tests reported to the Amarillo Public Health Department are related to the meat packing industry and plants.


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