The Intersection of Meatpacking and Vulnerability: COVID-19 in the High Plains of Texas




Gillis, Jamie

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The 2020 onset of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, was an opportunity to observe the unequal spread of a virus amongst the United States population. Large meatpacking plants have seen outbreaks of cases and deaths globally. Their vulnerable workforce of majority immigrant and refugee labor was put at risk while they kept America fed. This study sought to delineate the relationship between COVID-19, large meatpacking plants, and their associated demographic and socioeconomic variables for counties in the High Plains region of Texas. Statistical analysis used included Spearman correlation, linear regression, and spatial analysis using ArcGIS. Results reveal the complex relationship between economic industry, socioeconomics, and COVID-19 case rate as virus spread in the study area. A spatio-temporal characterization of this diffusion concludes that an ethnic divide along with the economic industry of meatpacking worked in tandem to structure the diffusion of the virus.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


COVID-19, meatpacking, refugees, spatial diffusion, vulnerability



Political Science and Geography