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Meat Supply in Las Vegas Strong Despite US Factory Closures

Wednesday, May 6, 2020   /   by Ken Couture

Meat Supply in Las Vegas Strong Despite US Factory Closures

Even as some meatpacking plants across the country have temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, Las Vegas Valley businesses aren’t experiencing shortages.

“It’s been normal for what this is,” said Robert Schiller, a manager at the Walmart Neighborhood Market at Charleston Boulevard and Torrey Pines Drive. “Nothing new really has changed for us, no real shortages.”

Business has been steady at Los Primos Meat Market, 1600 N. Jones Blvd., according to manager Oscar Nuno. He said many customers have slowed down purchases of cuts to store in their freezers.

“For now, we are all stocked,” he said, adding that the store has been ordering more in case of a shortage.

More than 4,900 workers at meat and poultry processing facilities have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including 20 who died, according to a report Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illnesses occurred among 130,000 workers at 115 facilities in 19 states, according to the CDC. Some states didn’t provide data, so the actual count is believed to be higher.

As of last week, more than 20 plants had suspended operations under pressure from local authorities and their own workers.

To stave off a meat shortage, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to “ensure America’s meat and poultry processors continue operations uninterrupted to the maximum extent possible.”

Butcher Pete Stessel of The Butcher Block, 6440 N. Durango Drive, said it’s too early to tell, but he believes that with many restaurants closed, small businesses will continue to be able to get what they need. He added that news of factories closing has spurred some customers to buy more.

“They call and ask if you have meat,” he said. “The supply is still good.”

El Gordito Carniceria employee Francisco Duerte said he had heard of chicken and pork facilities closing, but he doesn’t think that will affect the Spring Valley-area business.

Employees at a Smith’s at Flamingo Road and Decatur Boulevard likewise said that, while the store had some shortages of meat during the early days of the pandemic, it hasn’t been as much of an issue lately. Signs posted in the store Saturday said only two chicken, beef or pork products were allowed per customer.

Jesse Orozco, who spends a few days a week delivering groceries to people through Instacart, said Saturday that he hadn’t had any issue finding meat.

He said he had about 90 items to find for a delivery from Smith’s at Charleston and Hualapai Way, but he was able to find “most of it.”

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