The U.S. presidential election is quickly approaching, and it is no secret that the two candidates have two completely different plans for the handling of the pandemic. While President Donald Trump says he will continue to open the economy, Vice President Joe Biden has said he will take a much more conservative approach.
Let us just take the election out of the equation for a minute and think about what the next couple of months might mean for poultry and egg production and sales.
Unfortunately, summer is gone, and winter is quickly approaching, especially for those of us that live in the Midwest. This means cold weather and flu season for many parts of the country that our egg and poultry supply come from.
I have a very good friend who also happens to be the head of the emergency room at a hospital just outside of Des Moines, Iowa. I asked him last week if he thought we would see another spike and what that would mean for shutting down. His response was simple – remember politics aside – a COVID-related shutdown will depend on how severe the flu season is. He explained that if the hospitals fill up with flu patients, there will be no room for those with COVID-19. This could ultimately result in another shutdown to slow the spread and minimize hospital numbers.
This could be problematic in rural areas, where livestock and egg production take place because hospitals are much smaller. My friend further explained that smaller hospitals in rural areas obviously fill up faster than larger hospitals in big cities. If a doctor wants to transfer a critical patient to a bigger hospital and it is full, death rates could potentially increase, and shutdowns could reoccur.
In a recent video interview with Brock Peterson, the former president of Opal Foods and a current consultant in the agriculture industry, spoke about what it was like managing layer operation during a pandemic. He explained how critical communication with employees is. I think now is a good time to get ahead of the potential issue and proactively create a communication plan for essential employees.
He also said if another wave of COVID-19 comes, he does not believe we will see the increase in panic buying that we did the first time.
I would have to agree. We are now eight months from the first shutdown in March and I think people have come to terms with what they are or are not comfortable with. To a certain extent, the new normal that came with the pandemic has now become just normal. I think people will cautiously go to stores more often instead of bulk buying. Restaurants will continue to serve dine out options that people may be more comfortable getting than they were eight months ago.
It will be interesting to see how the holidays impact the spread. Will families still get together or keep their celebrations within their households? What will that mean for meat and egg sales?