“One could not stand and watch very long without becoming philosophical, without beginning to
deal in symbols and similes, and to hear the hog squeal of the universe…. Each one of these hogs
was a separate creature. Some were white hogs, some were black; some were brown, some were spotted; some were old, some young; some were long and lean, some were monstrous.”
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
died from the common
Flu. It averages between 27,000
and 70,000 per year.
Nothing is shut down, life & the
economy go on. At the moment there are 546
confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths.
Think about that!”
Donald Trump, @realDonaldTrump, Twitter, March 9, 2020
Sunday Morning Prayer
“This is for real. This is for real. This is Brooklyn y’all.
Family, ya’ll take it serious. Ya’ll take this thing real serious, ya’ll.
This is for real. This is for real ya’ll. This is for real. This is, this is real.
This is right here in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Hospital. This is for real. They’re puttin’ the
bodies in a 18-wheeler, ya’ll. This is live from Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn Hospital.
They’re puttin’ bodies in the back of a freezer truck ya’ll. Please stay inside.
(The man’s voice breaks as he continues, the video shaky).
This is for real. This is for real, ya’ll. This is for real, ya’ll.
My hand is shakin’ because it’s hard to look at this right here
what I’m seeing right now. It’s hard to believe this. But ya’ll, this is for real.
Please, please ya’ll, stay inside.
This is real, ya’ll.
This is coming right down.
Right here and now, right here outside the hospital.
This is going on right now. This is live, ya’ll.
The time is 10:40, Sunday morning.
This is now! This is now!”
Excerpts transcribed from post by John Lee, Facebook live, March
29, 2020, video link from “Video Appears to Show Brooklyn
Hospital Loading Dead Bodies Onto Refrigerated Morgue Truck,”
Vice News, March 30, 2020 (0:00 to 2:12 of 5:33)
Red Meat I.
“Eat beef: the west wasn’t won on salad.”
“. . . I’ll have the Red River D on more cattle than you’ve looked at anywhere. I’ll have that
brand on enough beef to feed the whole country. Good beef for hungry people. Beef to make ‘em
strong, make ‘em grow.”
John Wayne as Thomas Dunson, Red River, 1948
“This action [Trump’s designating meat processing as critical infrastructure] helps ensure the
American people will not experience protein shortages. . . . The company is grateful to its employees
and its union representatives, who are frontline responders, for their patriotism and willingness to
step up in a selfless way to keep food on tables during this global pandemic.”
Smithfield Foods press release, April 2020
Red Meat II.
“2020Boys Town 912 enroute to Lil’ Creighton Code 2 with a 65 y/o male who ‘got a little
excited about what President Trump was talking about’ and began to experience weakness.” 6:53 p.m.
“Air Force 1 is wheels up and has departed.” 7:26 p.m.
“Medics and OFD command being released from the scene. Officers requesting incident
command find a warehouse or somewhere for people to stop to warm up who are walking their
cars.” 8:13 p.m.
“#MedicalBranch of #TACAirIC reports at least 30 patient contacts and 7 patient transports
to hospital.” 9:35 p.m.
“Waterloo Medic 811 enroute to Lil’ Creighton Code 2 with a 68 y/o male who’s initial
complaint was possible hypothermia and altered mental status. He is alert and oriented and
shivering. Unable to obtain a temp. due to a broken thermometer.” 9:44 p.m.
Omaha Scanner, @omaha.scanner, Twitter, October 27, 2020
“Sunset last night . . . isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus. I’m hoping everybody is staying safe.”
David Geffen, @davidgeffen, Instagram, with image of Geffen’s
superyacht Rising Sun, March 28, 2020
Bieber: “You know, they look at us. And obviously, we’ve worked hard for where we’re at, so it’s
like, you can’t feel bad for the things we have.”
Jenner: “I think about it all the time.”
Bieber: “But I think, just us taking that time to acknowledge that there are people who are really
crippling is important.”
Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner, Instagram live, April 5, 2020
“That’s the thing about COVID-19. It doesn’t care about how rich you are, how famous you
are, how funny you are, how smart you are, where you live, how old you are, what amazing stories
you can tell. It’s the great equalizer. And what’s terrible about it is what’s great about it.”
(The shaky video appears handheld, though taken from several feet
above the petal-strewn bath). Madonna, @madonna, Instagram and
Twitter, March 23, 2020
A man in a dark blazer with a badge dangling from the breast pocket walks alongside a small
red Toyota forklift, a sheet-covered stretcher balanced long-ways across its fork. The man reaches
out his hand, holding onto one end of the stretcher. Maybe he does this to prevent it tipping, or
maybe some other stirring guides the gesture.
Two people in masks, face shields, and puffy white protective jumpsuits usher the stretcher
into the semi-trailer. The tall, quilted metal doors glimmer like water reflecting sky, a small company logo marks the surface like a resting bird. The doors swing closed as the video ends.
Video, “FEMA Sending 85 Refrigerated Trucks to New York City for
COVID-19 Bodies,” New York Post, March 30, 2020
Cargo Hauled by Burkesouth, Inc.
Fresh Produce General Freight Refrigerated Food
Quick Transport Solutions, Inc. website
“We’re working with Tyson. We’re going to sign an executive
order today, I believe. And that’ll solve any
liability problems where they had certain
And, we’ll be in very good shape. We’re
working with Tyson which is one of the
big companies in that world.”
“It was a very unique circumstance because of liability.”
“It’s a roadblock. It’s sort of a
legal roadblock more than anything else.”
Donald Trump, press conference, April 28, 2020
Excerpts transcribed from video “Trump Orders Meat Plants
to Stay Open in Pandemic: Facilities are declared critical
infrastructure for their role in the nation’s food supply even
as many become virus hot spots,” Washington Post, April 29,
“[W]orkers stand shoulder to shoulder
to provide Americans with affordable meat. . . .”
“As a chunk of meat travels down the production line, it becomes smaller
and smaller, and
so does the
“To precisely meet the C.D.C.’s guidelines of spacing workers six feet apart,
about two out of three workers would need to be removed from the densest section
of the fabrication floor.”
“Most plants are taking
to varying degrees.”
Reworked excerpts from article by Yuliya Parshina-Knottas, Larry Buchanan,
Aliza Aufrichtig, and Michael Corkery, “Take a Look at How Covid-19 Is
Changing Meatpacking Plants,” New York Times, June 8, 2020
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I—look, I accept things. I understand things very quickly. I mean, I—I
understood exactly what they were saying, but we can socially distance ourselves and go to work.
And you’ll have to work a little bit harder and you can clean your hands five times more than you’re
used to. You don’t have to shake hands anymore with people. That might be something good
coming out of this. Although I must tell you, as a politician, it’s a lot warmer when you walk into a
crowd and you’re shaking a lot of people’s hands. You love those people.
Q: I’d agree with you on that.
THE PRESIDENT: They love me and I love them, you know. But—but it is a little bit colder. But
you won’t be shaking hands for at least a while and things will happen. But we have to put the
country to work.
Donald Trump, transcript, “Fox News Virtual Town Hall,”
whitehouse.gov, March 24, 2020
“Lawyers for the families of four deceased Waterloo workers allege in lawsuits that plant
manager Tom Hart organized a buy-in betting pool for supervisors to wager on what percentage of
plant workers would test positive for COVID-19…. The winner who pulled a piece of paper with
the correct percentage out of a hat got the $100 payout.
“Managers told workers they had a responsibility to stay on the job to ensure that Americans
didn’t go hungry, even while they started avoiding the plant floor themselves because they were
afraid of contracting the virus. . . .”
“How is it that more than one thousand employees at one plant got sick and many died?”
[asked the family’s attorney].
Ryan A. Foley, “Tyson Fires 7 at Iowa Meat Plant After
Covid Betting Inquiry,” ABC News, December 16, 2020
“We’re prepared and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will
Just stay calm. It will
Donald Trump, @realDonaldTrump, Twitter, March 10, 2020
“The U.S. meat industry is the source of most new COVID hotspots,” says economist Ian
Shepherdson. A new CDC report says that in 115 meatpacking plants, 4193 workers have contracted
COVID, and 20 have died. Other studies arrive at significantly higher numbers.
Kate Gibson, “U.S. Meat Industry Seen as Source of Most New
COVID-19 Hotspots,” CBS News, May 1, 2020
11,946 meatpacking and processing workers have been infected with COVID-19, and 48 have died.
David Wallinga, “COVID-19 Hotspots Put Meatpacker Giants on
the Front Burner,” NRDC, May 5, 2020; updated May 8, 2020
CDC study finds that 87% of COVID cases in meat processing plants occurred among racial and
ethnic minorities. Eighty six workers have died. The study results are likely an underestimate.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2020
Bodies. Body. Body.
Cellphone video taken by an unnamed man wearing protective gear, presumably a hospital worker tasked with loading bodies into trucks:
“Bodies. Body. Body.”
Video shows several stretchers draped in white sheets lined up on the sidewalk.
No flesh can be seen, but the harsh late winter light makes the draping a different kind of naked.
They shouldn’t be outdoors.
“They have a truck that we’re gonna put the fuckin’ bodies in, bro. Look at this shit man,
bodies. This is full up with bodies. The second load. Show ya’ll this motherfucker. Crazy. Bodies up
there . . .”
Glenn Nocera, “Bodies being Loaded into a Freezer Truck at
Maimonides Hospital, Brooklyn, New York,” YouTube, March 29, 2020
In another video, two men talk indistinctly, almost laugh at an almost joke as they wheel a gurney, some body, sheet-wrapped, toward a semi-truck on the street beyond the hospital loading
dock. The wind picks at folds swaddling the feet.
The video feels familiar yet uncanny, a far-fetched dream recalled.
The nearest attendant grabs the flapping cloth, tucks it. Again the cloth escapes, a rippling
mass of alabaster, a statue come to life. It threatens to expose a specific something, delicate and colossal, or to wing its way from this scene altogether.