Democrats demand answers from Labor Department on CDC recommendations for meatpacking plant

Democrats demand answers from Labor Department on CDC recommendations for meatpacking plant
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House and Senate Democrats called on Labor Secretary Eugene ScaliaEugene ScaliaDemolition at the Labor Department, too AFL-CIO calls on Trump to resign or be removed from office 'at once' Biden taps Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for Labor secretary: report MORE to provide information on the agency's involvement with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to a Smithfield meatpacking plant that had a COVID-19 outbreak. 

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHawley pens op-ed to defend decision to object to electoral votes amid pushback Demolition at the Labor Department, too Hawley, Cruz face rising anger, possible censure MORE (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair National reading, math tests postponed to 2022 amid coronavirus surge Trump officials approve Georgia plan to remove healthcare.gov as enrollment option MORE (D-Va.) sent a letter to Scalia along with Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSenate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 Senate Democrats urge Google to improve ad policies to combat election disinformation MORE (D-Wis.) and Rep. Alma AdamsAlma Shealey AdamsRecord number of Black women elected to Congress in 2020 Armed Trump supporter arrested at North Carolina polling place From HBCUs to Capitol Hill: How Congress can play an important role MORE (D-N.C.).

The Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., was the site of a coronavirus outbreak in April. At least 1,294 Smithfield workers contracted the coronavirus, and four employees died from it.


CDC workers visited the plant that month and provided recommendations to reduce disease transmission. The Democrats claim that the recommendations were later withdrawn, watered down and then a final version was released. 

The Democrats requested Scalia provide copies of all communications between the Labor Department and the CDC or Agriculture Department regarding a site visit to Smithfield.

The letter to request this information from Scalia follows CDC Director Robert RedfieldRobert RedfieldPence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden Overnight Health Care: Testing capacity strained as localities struggle with vaccine staffing | Health workers refusing vaccine is growing problem | Incoming CDC director expects 500,000 COVID deaths by mid-February Incoming CDC director expects 500,000 coronavirus deaths by mid-February MORE last week telling Baldwin that his office was in contact with the Agriculture Department and Labor Department about the Smithfield outbreak.

Baldwin asked Redfield about these recommendations in a HELP Committee hearing last month and Redfield said at the time he had no contact with the Agriculture Department, White House or Smithfield on the matter.

The senators also requested copies of communications between Smithfield and the Labor Department, copies of reports of the in-person visit, a list of all versions of the visit memo, and copies of communications between the Labor Department and any other federal agency on the visit.