58 percent of workers at Tyson meat factory in Iowa test positive for coronavirus

More than 700 employees at a Tyson Foods meat factory in Perry, Iowa, have tested positive for coronavirus as the nation braces for a possible meat shortage due to the pandemic.

An Iowa Department of Public Health report released Tuesday showed that 58 percent of the factory’s workforce had tested positive for the virus, according to NBC affiliate WHO. The news comes just days after nearly 900 workers were confirmed to have the virus at a Tyson Foods plant in Indiana.

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Coronavirus in the United States

Tyson Foods said in a statement that the pandemic has forced the company to slow production and close plants in Dakota City, Nebraska, and Pasco, Washington, and the Perry plant as well.

“We have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety,” the statement said.

John Tyson, board chairman of Tyson Foods, warned that the food-supply chain is breaking in a full-page advertisement published last month in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Tyson Foods is not the only meat company facing worker infections. A Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, closed in April after two workers died and 783 others tested positive for the virus.

The pandemic’s impact on meat plant workers has caused serious concerns about the supply chain in the U.S. and fears that the country could experience a meat shortage.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order to compel meat processing plants to stay open last week using the Defense Production Act. Trump said he will also provide liability protection.

“We have had some difficulty where they are having a liability where it’s really unfair to them,” Trump said at a small-business event at the White House last week. “I fully understand that it’s not their fault.”

Joe Biden, the apparent Democratic presidential nominee, said Monday that he feared for those meatpacking workers. He said that such plants, along with nursing homes, have become “the most dangerous places there are right now.”

“They designate them as essential workers and then treat them as disposable,” Biden said of the meatpackers.

Healthy Pigs Killed, Thrown Away As Farms Face Slaughterhouse Backlogs

Officials estimate about 700,000 pigs nationwide being killed each week, disposed of in landfills or composted.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — After spending two decades raising pigs to send to slaughterhouses, Dean Meyer now faces the mentally draining, physically difficult task of killing them even before they leave his northwest Iowa farm.

Meyer said he and other farmers across the Midwest have been devastated by the prospect of euthanizing hundreds of thousands of hogs after the temporary closure of giant pork production plants due to the coronavirus.

The unprecedented dilemma for the U.S. pork industry has forced farmers to figure out how to kill healthy hogs and dispose of carcasses weighing up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms) in landfills, or by composting them on farms for fertilizer.

Meyer, who has already killed baby pigs to reduce his herd size, said it’s awful but necessary.

“Believe me, we’re double-stocking barns. We’re putting pigs in pens that we never had pigs in before just trying to hold them. We’re feeding them diets that have low energy just to try to stall their growth and just to maintain,” said Meyer, who also grows corn and soybeans on his family’s farm near Rock Rapids.

It’s all a result of colliding forces as plants that normally process up to 20,000 hogs a day are closing because of ill workers, leaving few options for farmers raising millions of hogs. Experts describe the pork industry as similar to an escalator that efficiently supplies the nation with food only as long as it never stops.

More than 60,000 farmers normally send about 115 million pigs a year to slaughter in the U.S. A little less than a quarter of those hogs are raised in Iowa, by far the biggest pork-producing state.

Officials estimate that about 700,000 pigs across the nation can’t be processed each week and must be euthanized. Most of the hogs are being killed at farms, but up to 13,000 a day also may be euthanized at the JBS pork plant in Worthington, Minnesota.

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, went to the plant Wednesday, in part to thank JBS officials for agreeing to kill the hogs at his request.

“The only thing they wanted out of me was for me to come down here and say I’m the one who asked for this, not them. … Blame me if you don’t like it,” he said.

It all means that meat can’t be delivered to grocery stores, restaurants that now are beginning to reopen or food banks that are seeing record demand from people suddenly out of work. Some of that demand is being met by high levels of meat in cold storage, but analysts say that supply will quickly dwindle, likely causing people to soon see higher prices and less selection.

To help farmers, the USDA already has set up a center that can supply the tools needed to euthanize hogs. That includes captive bolt guns and cartridges that can be shot into the heads of larger animals as well as chutes, trailers and personal protective equipment.

Iowa officials have asked that federal aid include funding for mental health services available to farmers and the veterinarians who help them.

Meyer said euthanizing healthy animals is a difficult decision for a farmer.

“It is a tough one,” he said. “We got keep our heads up and try to be resourceful and if we can make it through this cloud, I think there will be good opportunities if we’re left standing yet.”

The USDA has a program designed to connect farmers with local meat lockers and small processors that can slaughter some hogs and donate the meat to food banks. However, that effort has been hindered by the fact that small processors already were overwhelmed with customers who have turned away from mass-produced meat and instead bought a hog or cow to be processed locally.

Chuck Ryherd, owner of State Center Locker in State Center, Iowa, said he’s almost completely booked through the end of the year and has been turning away customers.

Chris Young, the executive director for the American Association of Meat Processors, a trade group for about 1,500 smaller meat lockers, said that while some local processors in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin have been able to take a few extra hogs, the shortage is being felt nationwide.

“When the pandemic started, all across the country, a lot of these small processing plants with a retail store in the front were just overrun,” he said. “They’re still crazy busy. It hasn’t really backed off.”

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump used the Defense Production Act to order that large meat processors remain open, giving hog farmers hope the situation could improve.

However, Howard Roth, a Wisconsin farmer and president of the National Pork Producers Council, said farmers will need to keep euthanizing pigs as the slaughterhouses struggle to resume their full production. Farmers will definitely need federal help to keep them afloat.

“We are going to need indemnity money for these farmers,” he said. “This situation is unprecedented.”

Peterson also said he’ll seek a change in the law so that the USDA can retroactively compensate farmers for euthanizing healthy animals in such emergencies. He said the USDA told him it doesn’t have the authority at the moment to do that for healthy animals, just diseased animals, as it did during for chickens and turkeys in the bird flu outbreak.

“It’s going to be in there, I’ll guarantee you,” he said.


Associated Press Writer Steve Karnowski contributed to this report from Minneapolis.



Coronavirus: Trump orders meatpacking plants to stay open

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Image copyrightEPATyson Foods poultry processing plant in Temperanceville, VA
Image captionClosures of meat processing plants quickly affect the food supply chain

US President Donald Trump has ordered meat processing plants to stay open to protect the nation’s food supply amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He invoked a Korean War-era law from the 1950s to mandate that the plants continue to function, amid industry warnings of strain on the supply chain.

An estimated 3,300 US meatpacking workers have been diagnosed with coronavirus and 20 have died.

The UN last month warned the emergency threatened global food supply chains.

Twenty-two US meatpacking plants across the American Midwest have closed during the outbreak.

They include slaughterhouses owned by the nation’s biggest poultry, pork and beef producers, such as Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods, Cargill and JBS USA.

What does the White House say?

“Such closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency,” says Tuesday evening’s executive order, invoking the 1950 Defense Production Act.

“Given the high volume of meat and poultry processed by many facilities, any unnecessary closures can quickly have a large effect on the food supply chain.”

The order designates the meatpacking plants as part of critical infrastructure in the US.

A White House official told US media it will work with the Department of Labor to issue guidance for vulnerable workers, such as over-65s and those with chronic health conditions, to stay at home.

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Like lambs to the slaughter?

Analysis by Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News

The leadership of large meatpacking companies have faced tough questions over whether they did enough to prepare for the pandemic and protect workers.

On top of the fact that production lines necessitate that workers stand very close together, most are low-income, hourly workers.

Many are immigrants living paycheque to paycheque, like the ones at a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pork plant who told the BBC that despite the risk, they have no choice but to go to work if plants are open.

Without strict adherence to safety guidelines – which are not currently being deemed “mandatory” by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – it’s not hard to picture new outbreaks at factories, or resurgences of the virus in factories that shuttered but reopen prematurely.

All of this could leave these employees trapped in the same impossible choice they were in when the virus first began spreading in factories in late March: risk my health or lose my job.

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What does the meat industry say?

John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods took out full-page ads on Sunday in the Washington Post and New York Times to warn “the nation’s food supply is breaking”.

“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” he wrote.

“As a result, there will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed.”

He said millions of cattle, pigs and chickens will be euthanised because of slaughterhouse closures, limiting supplies at supermarkets.

Pork production has borne the brunt, with daily output slashed by at least a quarter.

Tyson – which employs some 100,000 workers nationwide – has suspended operations at its pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa.

Smithfield Foods shut down production at its plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after an outbreak infected hundreds of employees.

What do the unions say?

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest US meatpacking union, demanded the Trump administration compel meat companies to provide proper protective equipment and ensure daily coronavirus testing for slaughterhouse workers.

“While we share the concern over the food supply, today’s executive order to force meatpacking plants to stay open must put the safety of our country’s meatpacking workers first,” said the union.

The UFCW said the White House order would provide legal cover to companies in case employees catch coronavirus at work.

“We’re working with Tyson,” Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office earlier on Tuesday. “We’re going to sign an executive order today, I believe, and that will solve any liability problems.”

Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO union, said: “Using executive power to force people back on the job without proper protections is wrong and dangerous.”

Joe Exotic killed over 100 tigers and would hit cubs if they misbehaved, reveals head zookeeper

Erik Cowei, the head zookeeper at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, said that Exotic once killed eight tigers in a single day


                            Joe Exotic killed over 100 tigers and would hit cubs if they misbehaved, reveals head zookeeper(Netflix)

A former employee of Joe Exotic has revealed that the 57-year-old killed over 100 tigers, would hit cubs if they misbehaved, and feared most of his big cats while running the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. Erik Cowie, the head zookeeper at the animal park — which is being run by a different owner — said that the tigers hated Exotic so much that “several of the big cats would have eaten him alive if given the chance.”

“Joe would often brag about being in a cage with 16 tigers, but in reality, it was more like two or three of them. I would take the mean ones out of the cage, the cats who didn’t like him,” Cowie told DailyMailTV.

He added, “There was a liger and we used to use Joe as bait in order to get her out of its cage, this big cat would try to attack Joe every time she saw him.” Liger is a hybrid offspring of a male lion and a female tiger.

Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, is the central character of Netflix’s hit docuseries ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness’. He is currently serving a 22-year sentence for plotting to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin in 2017 and for more than a dozen wildlife violations, including killing five tigers.

However, in reality, he killed more than 100 tigers, according to Cowie.

He also recalled how Exotic was excited after killing five big cats to make space for other animals at the zoo as he told him, “Damn, Erik if I only knew it was going to be that easy.”

Cowie also shared that once Exotic killed a 27-year-old Siberian tiger named ‘Cuddles’ just because he was getting old. And once the central character of the Netflix original killed eight tigers in a single day. “They euthanized them and had a veterinarian sign off on them with excuses like they were too old, sick, etc. Most of the time a veterinarian wasn’t even around when things like that would happen, but he would write it down on a log, so he could be covered in case government inspectors wanted to check his books,” he alleged.

Cowie said Exotic was never emotionally attached to the animals as he didn’t spend enough time with them “to truly bond with them”, and that towards the end, he was too busy campaigning for governor or president.

“Joe only cared about them in a monetary way,” Cowie said, while mentioning a particular lion that used to hate Exotic so much it “would try to chew through the cage to get at him.”

“I learned a lot from Joe, mostly on not what to do,” he added.

In his interview, Cowie also disclosed that Exotic would hit cubs if they misbehaved with the zoo guests. “For one reason or another, a cub would become unruly so Joe would take the baby cub out of view of the people at the zoo and pop the cub in the nose and bring it back out,” he said, adding that this ruthless behavior made his job more difficult. “I then had to deal with a baby cub who had just been popped in the nose and then make sure it wouldn’t act up and bite some older women or child,” he said.

Cowie said that Exotic tried to keep his inumane behavior a secret by never allowing zoo guests to bring cameras. He had ordered his employees to check the guests’ belts to ensure they were not carrying any hidden camera as he feared PETA would send in a spy to get evidence against him.

“These animals trusted me and I let some of them down, for that I’ll never forget,” Cowie said, adding he regrets not revealing the truth earlier about Exotic killing over 100 cats.

“I love these animals dude. I’d sooner put myself under a bus than leave these animals. These animals are my children. They are the only reason why I’m out here. I’m just a guy who picks up poop with his hands and I’m good at cutting up cows to feed to the tigers,” said Cowie, who has been working at the park for eight years and wants to continue doing so.

However, his body is not cooperating with him in doing his dream job. “It’s a young man’s job, I’m old and my body has suffered because of it,” Cowie explained.

He also shared the since Exotic is not anymore the owner of the zoo, animals are doing well. The Oklahoma zoo, which has currently 117 tigers, is now taken care of by a new owner, Jeff Lowe.

Even as slaughterhouses emerge as pandemic hotspots, USDA grants record number of waivers to dial up chicken slaughter speeds

April 23, 2020 0 Comments

The federal government has handed out a record number of waivers this month for chicken slaughterhouses to dial up the already dangerous speeds at which they kill birds. The development not only raises animal welfare concerns, but it comes at a time when slaughterhouses have emerged as major clusters for the spread of the coronavirus because of their cramped, unsanitary working conditions—conditions that line speed increases will only worsen.

So far in April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued waivers to 15 chicken slaughterhouses, allowing them to speed up the rate of killing from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute—about three birds per second. This is a significant increase in the waivers issued each month since the new program went into effect in 2018, and it adversely affects millions more animals. In the period between January and March this year, the agency only issued a single waiver.

The USDA’s decision came just weeks after a coalition of groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, sued the agency in February for allowing the increase in line speeds. We are concerned because slaughtering animals at this rate increases suffering for birds in their final moments, creates even more dangerous conditions for workers and compromises the health and safety of consumers.

At such high speeds, workers struggling to keep up with the rapidly moving slaughter lines grab the chickens and slam them into shackles, injuring the animals’ fragile legs. Some birds miss the throat-cutting blade and enter the scalder—a tank of extremely hot water—alive and fully conscious, resulting in a terrible death.

In recent weeks, slaughterhouses have also been in the news for their role in exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic. A South Dakota pig slaughterhouse has been linked to nearly 900 cases of the disease, making it the single largest cluster in the entire country. At least 2,700 cases have been tied to 60 meatpacking plants in 23 states, and at least 17 workers in these plants have died. Some slaughterhouses, such as the one in South Dakota and Tyson’s largest U.S. pig slaughterhouse, have finally shuttered their doors, but many remain open even after workers have tested positive for the virus.

The United Food and Commercial Worker International Union has warned that allowing slaughterhouses to speed up guarantees that workers will be more crowded along the meatpacking line, and therefore at greater risk of either catching or spreading the virus.

These slaughterhouses are also dangerous for the communities where they are located. A USA Today analysis found that counties with some of America’s largest beef, pork and poultry processing plants have coronavirus infection rates higher than those in 75% of other U.S. counties.

With all this evidence, it is mindboggling that the USDA is giving out more waivers, choosing to help fatten the bottom lines of corporate interests over animal welfare, food safety and the safety of the agency’s own inspectors and slaughterhouse employees.

Last week, our legal team warned the USDA that we would amend our lawsuit and take steps to seek a quick ruling following the increased waivers, and the agency now appears to have relented slightly. Yesterday, a spokesperson for the USDA told a Bloomberg reporter that it has “stopped accepting additional requests” from chicken slaughterhouses to operate at higher speeds.

But this is not good enough—we are asking that the agency revoke all of the waivers it has already issued. Our federal government should never prioritize industry profits over animal welfare, worker safety and public health, and especially not in the midst of a global pandemic.

Wet markets breed contagions like the coronavirus. The U.S. has thousands of them.

Cows line up to be milked at a large dairy farm in Utah. (iStock)
Cows line up to be milked at a large dairy farm in Utah. (iStock)
April 21, 2020 at 3:00 a.m. PDT

On April 3, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, joined the chorus of voices calling for the immediate closure of China’s “wet markets,” where the coronavirus is widely believed to have originated. Butchers, trappers and consumers mingle openly, slaughtering and trading live animals; it is the perfect environment for zoonotic diseases to leap from an infected creature to a human.

But China is hardly the only country where live animal markets and other squalid operations are common. Some 80 of them operate within the five boroughs of New York City alone, according to Slaughter Free NYC, a nonprofit group that opposes them. They are near residences, schools and public parks.

Less notorious but much more commonplace threats to public health are the “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFOs) scattered throughout the South and Midwest. These factory farms warehouse thousands of animals that wallow in their own waste with limited or no airspace, routinely creating conditions for the proliferation of super bugs and zoonotic pathogens. Nearly the entire supply of animal products consumed in the United States originate from these industrial factory farms.

The Centers Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have warned us against the risks of factory farms for years. The unsanitary living conditions inside CAFOs weaken animals’ immune systems and increase their susceptibility to infection and disease. The factory farms’ response has been to pump the animals full of antibiotics that make their way into our food supply and onto our dinner plates, systematically fostering in humans a lethal resistance to the medicines that once quelled everyday infections. Such practices have brought humanity to the point that the WHO now estimates that more than half of all human diseases emanate from animals.

Many of us are privileged enough to stay at home in safety with our loved ones to avoid the coronavirus. But how much thought are we giving to the individuals and communities that are directly affected by our choices and lifestyles? Tens of thousands of Americans face threats to their daily health and well-being from neighboring CAFOs and the animal waste that mists or flows over their properties. They are unable to be “safer at home.” Will we apply the same energy we have put into overcoming this virus into preventing future outbreaks and helping dismantle the industries inflicting so much damage to communities across the country?

As this disaster continues to ravage society, we must examine our role in the emergence of the coronavirus and our vulnerability to a growing number of diseases as a result of our impositions on the animal kingdom and the environment. This probe cannot end with bats, monkeys, pangolins and other exotic wildlife supposedly to blame for recent contagions. It should encompass all of the supporting industries that contribute to the debilitation of communities, our susceptibility to illnesses and our complete defenselessness in their wake. A real public-health reckoning would have us reshape our patterns of consumption, curbing our dependence on animal products. A bacteria-infested (and inhumane) food supply makes people sick.

Covid-19 is a devastating indicator of what’s to come if we don’t make rapid and sweeping changes, the least inconvenient of which is closing down all live-animal markets and CAFOs in the midst of this global pandemic.

Spain cancels Pamplona bull running festival as daily coronavirus cases drop again to 3,968 but the number of new deaths climbs to 430

Spain’s best-known bull running festival in the northern town of Pamplona has been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, Pamplona city hall said today.

The San Fermin celebration is centuries old and typically attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

During the celebration half-tonne fighting bulls chase hundreds of daredevils, many of whom wear traditional white shirts and scarves, through the narrow streets of the city each morning.

The municipal council agreed to suspend the event which is held each year between July 6 and 14.

The San Fermin celebration in northern town of Pamplona is typically attended by hundreds of thousands of people

The San Fermin celebration in northern town of Pamplona is typically attended by hundreds of thousands of people

Acting mayor of Pamplona Ana Elizalde told a news conference: ‘As expected as it was, it still leaves us deeply sad.

‘In this context there is no place for fireworks, bullfights or bull runs. We are supposed to wear masks, keep a social distance – measures that are incompatible with what San Fermin is.’

People travel from all over the world to Pamplona to test their bravery and enjoy the festival’s mix of round-the-clock parties, religious processions and concerts.

A 50-year-old lawyer from Colorado who has run with the bulls 99 times at San Fermin cancelled his flight in February.

Peter N. Milligan, who wrote a book about his experiences at the fiesta, had been planning to return to Pamplona this year.

Spanish bullfighter Gines Marin performs with a bull at last year's festival on July 7 in Pamplona

Spanish bullfighter Gines Marin performs with a bull at last year’s festival on July 7 in Pamplona

Bulls charge through streets of Pamplona for annual festival

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He said: ‘I was expecting this. Considering the stay at home rules, I would imagine the city would have been overrun if they decided to proceed. Seems like a very smart decision.’

He added: ‘I know this cancellation will be devastating to our friends economically in Pamplona. Fiesta is a tough time to stay healthy under the best of circumstances.’

Spain today recorded a fall in the number of new coronavirus cases but an increase in daily deaths, as 3,968 more people were infected and another 430 died.

The 3,968 new cases – down from 4,266 yesterday – bring the total from 200,210 to 204,178, an increase of 2.0 per cent.

The fall is notable because Spain typically sees an increase in new cases on Tuesdays when delayed weekend figures are fully accounted for.

Deaths increased by 430 today, a higher jump than yesterday’s 399 which takes the overall death toll from 20,852 to 21,282.

This graph shows the daily number of new coronavirus cases in Spain. Today's figure was 3,968, slightly down from yesterday's 4,266

This graph shows the daily number of new coronavirus cases in Spain. Today’s figure was 3,968, slightly down from yesterday’s 4,266

This chart shows the daily number of deaths. Today's figure of 430 is a slight increase from yesterday's 399

This chart shows the daily number of deaths. Today’s figure of 430 is a slight increase from yesterday’s 399

Coronavirus patient Maria Josefa Arias, 76, is taken to hospital by emergency technicians Marisa Arguello de Paula and Itxaso Garcia Giaconi in Galdakao in Spain

Coronavirus patient Maria Josefa Arias, 76, is taken to hospital by emergency technicians Marisa Arguello de Paula and Itxaso Garcia Giaconi in Galdakao in Spain

Spain has been in lockdown since March 14, and the measures are expected to be extended with slight relaxations until May 9.

Health emergency chief Fernando Simon says the rate of new infections in Spain is continuing to fall despite an increase in testing.

The regular increase in cases of around 2-3 per cent a day is far lower than the 15-25 per cent which was typical at the height of the crisis in mid-March.

On average, Spain’s new infection count for Tuesday has been higher than on Monday, probably because of delays in reporting weekend figures.

However, today’s jump of 3,968 was smaller than yesterday’s 4,266, which had marked a slight increase from Sunday’s figure of 4,218.

Against that, Spain had said yesterday that its 4,266 new cases included more than 1,000 older ones which had only just been confirmed.

There are fears that the true death toll may be far higher than 21,282, which have been amplified since Catalonia started disclosing thousands more deaths last week after taking a tally from funeral homes.

Those Catalan deaths have not been recorded in Spain’s nationwide figures, despite the region’s calls for the government to do so.

Simon, the emergency response chief, has acknowledged that the ‘real number of deaths is hard to know’.

Even families burying their dead are not always certain what their loved ones died of.

In a nursing home near Barcelona, an 85-year-old woman died on April 8 of ‘possible’ Covid-19, said her daughter Amparo, citing a doctor’s death certificate.

Amparo said her mother was not tested, accusing political leaders of not protecting citizens and dismissing the official tally as useless.

‘Additional people have died because (politicians) have not made sufficient testing possible so that we can know the reality,’ she said. ‘We have left them to die alone.’

Police hand out face masks in Spain as the lockdown eases

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Health workers wearing white protective suits transfer a patient from her home to the Hospital Infanta Leonor in Madrid on Sunday

Health workers wearing white protective suits transfer a patient from her home to the Hospital Infanta Leonor in Madrid on Sunday

Healthcare workers prepare to move a coronavirus patient at the intensive care unit of the Povisa Hospital in Vigo, Spain

Healthcare workers prepare to move a coronavirus patient at the intensive care unit of the Povisa Hospital in Vigo, Spain

The government has defended its count – which only includes those tested – and said that tracking confirmed deaths allows it to better study the outbreak’s evolution.

Suspected deaths should be analysed at a later stage, the government says.

In other countries, such as Italy and the Netherlands, a large number of coronavirus deaths might not have been reported because of under-testing in nursing homes.

From March 1 to April 10, Spain reported 16,353 coronavirus deaths. But according to the National Epidemiology Centre’s database MoMo, there were 22,487 more deaths than normal for the time of year over the exact same period.

A large part of the 6,134 difference is likely related to COVID-19, said Pedro Gullon, a Spanish Epidemiology Society board member.

But it had to be carefully interpreted because it could also include non-coronavirus deaths of people who did not attend hospitals, he said.

A justice ministry spokesman said it was ‘ridiculous’ to say that the real number of coronavirus deaths could be concealed.

The issue is adding to friction between the government in Madrid and regions with a high degree of autonomy, including Catalonia, whose regional leadership has been waging a long campaign for independence.

The leader of the main opposition People’s Party, Pablo Casado, has demanded that ‘all the truth be told’ about the number of dead.

A lawmaker from the far-right Vox tweeted: ‘No smokescreen will cover the deaths you try to hide’.

The San Fermin festival, which dates back to medieval times and was immortalised in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises was last called off in 1997 after Basque separatist group ETA assassinated a local politician.

Sixteen people have been killed in the bull runs since officials began keeping track in 1910, most recently in 2009 when a 27-year-old Spaniard was gored in the neck, heart and lungs.

The pandemic has also forced the suspension or postponement of major events such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Coachella music festival in southern California, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Bulls and runners make their way into the arena in Pamplona

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Spain cancels its world-famous Pamplona bull running festival because of coronavirus

World Health Organization says nations should end wildlife trade

Calendar Icon April 14, 2020

The World Health Organization is calling on nations to end wildlife markets because of the high risk they pose for the spread of pathogens like the coronavirus that can jump from animals to humans.

This week, David Nabarro, a medical doctor and the special envoy on COVID-19 and special representative of the United Nations secretary general for food security and nutrition, told the BBC that 75 percent of emerging infections come from the animal kingdom.

“This is dangerous. We have similar concerns about bushmeat. Really, be very, very careful when you’re basically eating wild animal meat or killing wild animals. All these things are higher risk,” he said.

Nabarro’s statements on behalf of the WHO, which has 192 member countries, including China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam—where many of these markets exist—came this week even as media reports circulated about wildlife markets beginning to reopen in China. The WHO does not have the authority to require governments to close down such markets, but, Nabarro said, “what we have to do is offer advice and guidance, and there’s very clear advice from the Food and Agriculture Organization and WHO that said there are real dangers in these kinds of environments.”

In recent weeks, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the United Nations’ acting head of biodiversity, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have made similar calls to end live wildlife markets around the globe. Fauci has called wildlife markets “a superhighway” for transmission of disease.

The Humane Society family has been urging the WHO to take a stand against wildlife markets and we are pleased to see the global health body do so. Earlier this month, Humane Society International along with 240 organizations around the globe, sent a letter to the WHO urging it to recommend a permanent ban on wildlife markets and the use of wildlife in traditional medicine to governments worldwide.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund lobbied support for a letter co-signed by nearly 70 U.S. Senators and Representatives to the WHO, the Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, urging them to take aggressive action to shut down live wildlife markets and ban the international trade in wildlife that is not intended for conservation purposes.

Earlier this month, HSI released a white paper detailing scientific evidence of the link between COVID-19 and the wildlife trade that has been sent to 188 governments worldwide. HSI also sent an open letter to governments around the world asking them to ban wildlife trade (including wildlife markets), transport and consumption.

While we have expanded our efforts to move lawmakers and global organizations to take action because of the urgency created by the coronavirus pandemic, this is not a new fight for us. We have been calling for the closure of wildlife markets for many years now not only due to animal welfare concerns but because these markets often trade in endangered and at-risk animals or exploit captive bred animals.

Wildlife markets are filthy, crowded places where sick, injured and scared animals are displayed in small cages. Once purchased, they are often slaughtered on-site, creating a perfect breeding ground for transmission of disease from animals to humans. Moreover, many of the animals traded and killed at the markets are threatened with extinction. In fact, global wildlife experts say trade in live wild animals is one of the biggest threats to the survival of some species.

Health authorities have long cautioned the world about the risks these markets pose to human health: wildlife markets have been implicated in the spread of several disease outbreaks in recent years, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), bird flu, Ebola and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The novel coronavirus pandemic was traced to a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.

Now, we hope to see decisive permanent action from key nations to end the wildlife trade and its connections to pandemic risk. China in February announced a ban on wildlife consumption as food, but it has not yet codified that ban into law. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese authorities are offering tax breaks to the multibillion-dollar animal products industry for the export of wild animals.

Around the world, the trade in wildlife continues. The United States, where hundreds of thousands of wild animals are imported and commercially traded each year, is a WHO member state, and we urge the federal government here, as well as state governments, to crack down on the wildlife trade to minimize the likelihood of another pandemic. This trade causes tremendous suffering to millions of animals each year and now, with the novel coronavirus sickening nearly two million people worldwide and killing more than 120,000, the writing is on the wall. The wildlife trade is rife with dangers, and the sooner we put an end to it, the safer the world will be.

The post World Health Organization says nations should end wildlife trade appeared first on A Humane World.

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‘Tiger King’ star Joe Exotic had sex fetishes, ordered burial of protesters at zoo, Jeff Lowe claims

aldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” had kinky sex fetishes and once ordered employees to bury the bodies of two protesters at his former zoo, current owner Jeff Lowe claims in a new interview.

Lowe assumed ownership of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma following Maldonado-Passage’s run in 2019. The Netflix series’ boisterous star is now serving 22 years behind bars for a failed murder-for-hire plot on his rival, Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin.

Lowe, who also appeared in the Netflix documentary, now claims in an interview with the Daily Mail that the series only showed a very small fraction of Maldonado-Passage’s questionable behavior. He alleged the cat enthusiast is guilty of burying his protesters on the zoo’s grounds in addition to indulging in a number of eyebrow-raising sex fetishes.


Jeff Lowe of 'Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness'

Jeff Lowe of ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness’ (Netflix)

Lowe claimed he stumbled upon “packages and packages of these whips and chains and bondage devices” belonging to Joe Exotic in his attic.

“We also found pictures of stuffed animals where the mouths and ends of the animals had holes cut out in them where they would use them as their own sex toy,” Lowe claimed.

The zoo owner provided the Daily Mail with photos of the stuffed animals, as well as online documentation of Maldonado-Passage soliciting sex in exchange for money with strangers online.


Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as "Joe Exotic," from the hit Netflix series 'Tiger King.'

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” from the hit Netflix series ‘Tiger King.’ (Netflix)

“Joe was embezzling money from the zoo in order to pay all of these men to come have sex with him, he was only making $150 a week at the time. He was using the zoo as his own personal piggy bank,” Lowe alleged.

An attorney for Maldonado-Passage did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Furthermore, Lowe said he’s heard claims from other employees that Maldonado-Passage engaged in bestiality around the zoo.

The owner also claimed he’s learned there is a possibility of dead bodies buried on the zoo property.


Joe Exotic is the main subject of Netflix's hit docuseries 'Tiger King.'

Joe Exotic is the main subject of Netflix’s hit docuseries ‘Tiger King.’ (Netflix)

“After Joe was arrested, four locals who didn’t know each other told me that there could be dead bodies buried on my property,” he said.

He claimed he was told by one employee that a co-worker once shot two protesters who attempted to climb the zoo’s fence. He claimed Joe allegedly instructed the employee to place the bodies inside of large tires and then burn them.

Lowe claimed the feds agreed to see how long Joe Exotic would be sentenced for before spending “the estimated $1 million to excavate and process the entire area” of the zoo.

Jeff Lowe now owns the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.

Jeff Lowe now owns the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. (Netflix)


Since landing in prison, Maldonado-Passage has filed a civil lawsuit against Lowe and a number of government agencies seeking $94 million for false arrest, false imprisonment, selective enforcement and the death of his mother, among other claims.

Tiger Queen

To think I almost watched an episode of the “Tiger King” at one time. I had added it to my Netflix list back when I’d heard only that it was a true crime documentay and guessed that it would reveal much about the way animals are abused when forced to perform. But I have long- since removed it from the list, after I started to get an idea that the rampant tiger abuse was not even the focus of the stupid show…

I was reminded of a time years ago when I took the chance to get near tigers by visiting a hollywood animal “trainer” or “wrangler” or whatever the heck they call them now at her property in rural Washington. She “owned” tigers, lions and I don’t remember what else–all kept in small, muddy outdoor enclosures, totally devoid of trees, bushes or any living vegetation. I’m guessing now, that she didn’t want to give the animals anything to hide behind.

When we went out to meet the tigers, one had knocked over its water bowl or for some reason she had to go into the pen with the tigers. One of them (playfully?) took a swipe at her and she responded by picking up a section of 2×4 and hitting the cat as hard as she could over the head, before hastily scrambling out of the fenced enclosure!

At that point it was clear that the animals weren’t at all happy there and wouldn’t hesitate to escape their confines if they had half a chance and freedom would not just end in them being shot like so many “big game” animals humans so proudly display on the walls of their dens or in their “trophy” rooms …