Nearly two million chickens were killed at Delaware and Maryland farms due to a lack of processing plant workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. is currently experiencing reduced employee attendance at its plants on the Delmarva Peninsula — a strip of land shared between Delaware, Maryland and Virginia — due to increased cases of COVID-19 throughout the community, additional testing, and workers practicing public health officials’ ‘stay home if you’re sick’ social distancing guidance, according to a statement the company released.

In a letter to growers sent on April 8, director of live operations for Allen Harim Foods Michelle Minton explained that the company would begin “depopulating” chickens two days later.

“When we started noticing the downward trend in attendance, we reduced the number of eggs set and chicks placed,” the letter read. “Unfortunately, reduced placements will not make an impact for another six weeks, and with the continued attendance decline and building bird inventory daily, we are forced to make a very difficult decision. Starting Friday, April 10, we will begin depopulating flocks in the field.”

This is just one example of how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting food processing facilities and factory farm workers across the country. Earlier this month, a Smithfield pork plant in Sioux Falls, S.D. closed indefinitely after single-handedly becoming the country’s biggest coronavirus hot spot, leaving workers suddenly unemployed and at a dramatically-increased risk of getting sick.

Mass animal killing shouldn’t happen, plain and simple. This sad case only highlights the need to end our cruel, disease-ridden industrial animal agriculture industry. If you haven’t yet, sign LFT’s petition urging the U.S. Congress to implement a nationwide ban on factory farms. It’s time to change the system.

SIGN: End Cruel and Deadly Factory Farming in the United States