Utah meat packing plant stays open following coronavirus outbreak

Utah meat packing plant stays open following coronavirus outbreak
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A meat packing plant in Utah remains open despite a recent outbreak of coronavirus that makes up one-third of the state’s new cases.

A JBS Beef Plant in Hyrum, Utah, had 287 employees test positive for coronavirus out of the 1,024 employees it tested, KUER reported. Utah has experienced a spike in cases over the last two weeks.

While the facility is still open, it is operating at reduced capacity this week, a JBS spokesperson told The Hill.

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President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Laura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement MORE signed an executive order on April 28 to compel meat processing plants to stay open after coronavirus outbreaks sparked closures and led to shortages at grocery stores and fast food chains.

The JBS spokesperson said, however, they are keeping the plant open because they believe it is safe.

“We will not operate a facility if we don’t believe it is safe, and we are running the plant at the levels we anticipated due to testing,” the spokesperson said.

All Tyson Foods and Smithfield plants are also currently open, both companies told The Hill. Over 11,000 cases of COVID-19 were tied to Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS plants as of May. 

“We recently partnered with the Utah Department of Health to provide mandatory testing of our Hyrum workforce. We are following CDC guidance to quarantine all team members who have tested positive and we conducted additional deep cleaning of the plant,” the JBS spokesperson said. 

The company said it is also following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance around safety and social distancing.

Some employees of the company protested on Tuesday, demanding the facility close, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Trump said on May 19 that the food chain was ‘almost working perfectly again.’ At the time, JBS and Smithfield had no closed facilities but Tyson Foods had one closed poultry facility in Wilkesboro, N.C., that has since reopened.