RALEIGH (WTVD) -- By now, consumers are accustomed to seeing bare shelves in the paper products aisles of supermarkets as well as fresh meat counters where bargains vanish almost as soon as butchers place them there. But now there's concern about future stocks of protein like chicken, pork and beef.
Amal Balarjee told ABC11 while looking for a space in line at the chicken sale on the NC State Fairgrounds, "Some of those big plants are closing, and people don't want to come to work because of COVID-19!"
He's aware of the reports that meat processing plants in states including North Carolina had workers who tested positive for the coronavirus. Some of their coworkers felt their own safety was compromised, so health authorities worked with the affected businesses to remove those workers from the plants.
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"We're currently monitoring North Carolina's several plants where employees have tested positive for COVID-19," said state emergency management director Mike Sprayberry. "We want to extend a special thanks to the strike team members as well as to the employees who work so hard in those meat processing plants to ensure the state and nation have proteins like pork and poultry available to eat."
Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler said while there's no shortage of protein that's destined for North Carolina's grocery stores, "It may not be in today, the day you want it. It may not be in the cuts you want. But it will be protein, it will be nutritious and it will be safe."
Allen Thompson got that message while waiting for his turn in the long chicken line.
"They just told us all they had was drumsticks. No white meat like I wanted," he said.
Authorities say consumers should try to be patient while shopping for some food that's temporarily out of stock, and avoid hoarding.