South Dakota governor says Smithfield meat plant could reopen ‘in a matter of days’
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R ) said the Smithfield Foods meat plant in her state could reopen “in a matter of days.”
“I think it could be in a matter of days,” Noem said of the Sioux Falls plant at a Tuesday press conference, where she announced her plan to get her state “Back to Normal.”
Noem originally announced her plans to open the plant “in a matter of days” in a Monday interview on Fox News.
Her announcement comes as President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Tuesday that would use the Defense Production Act to compel meat processing plants to stay open by designating them as critical infrastructure.
Noem said Tuesday that she also considers the Smithfield Foods meat processing plant critical infrastructure and that the decision to open is ultimately up to the plant themselves. When asked, Noem said that an executive order from the president would not hinder her ability to close down a plant if another hotspot emerges.
“These are critical infrastructure businesses, they are imperative to our food supply in this country, so I think we need to keep them running but we also need to protect people,” Noem said.
More than 500 workers at the Smithfield Foods pork-processing plant in S.D. tested positive for the coronavirus this month, leading the company to order a closure. As of Thursday the state has reported 2,245 cases and 11 deaths.
South Dakota is one of a handful of states that did not issue a full stay at home order.
In a 15-page memo published Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that Smithfield Foods adopt measures to promote social distancing and provide protective gear to workers before they reopen the plant.