The largest pork processor in the United States will be closing one of its plants due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in their facility.
What We Know:
- Smithfield Foods will close one of its plants until further notice amid a rash of COVID-19 illness among its employees.
- The meat processor’s chief executive Kenneth Sullivan said in a statement Sunday, “The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.”
- About 240 employees at the plant have become ill; that accounts for more than half of the confirmed cases in the state, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem said on Saturday.
- The plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is responsible for 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, the company states.
- Several other meat processors in the nation, including Iowa and Pennsylvania, have also been forced to shutter due to sick employees.
- COVID-19 has affected communities everywhere. Numerous plants across the country have COVID-19 positive employees. Sullivan said, “We have continued to run our facilities for one reason; to sustain our nation’s food supply during this pandemic. We believe it is our obligation to help feed the country, now more than ever.”
- Some employees will remain to conduct inventory at the plant as it prepares to fully shut down. Following employees will be compensated while the plant is shut down for the next two weeks.
Smithfield operations will resume at the plant after they receive further direction for local, state, and federal officials.