Smithfield plant worker dies from coronavirus
A worker at Smithfield Foods’s plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., has died from coronavirus, one of 644 confirmed cases at the facility.
Angelita Rodriguez told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that her husband Augustin continued coming to work after beginning to display symptoms of the virus because he needed the money.
“I lost him because of that horrible place,” Rodriguez told the newspaper through a translator. “Those horrible people and their supervisors, they’re sitting in their homes and they’re happy with their families.”
“In the name of Jesus Christ, these people need to face justice,” she added.
The first case of the virus at the facility was confirmed March 26, after which company officials said they had notified other workers and sanitized the employee’s workspace but would otherwise continue operations as normal, adding that they had installed hand sanitizer stations and would offer a “responsibility bonus” of $500 to any workers who did not miss any shifts in April.
Within two weeks, more than 600 positive cases tied directly to the plant had been confirmed, making it the largest hotspot for the virus in the U.S. The company said it would close the facility indefinitely on April 12.
The facility accounts for up to 5 percent of pork production in the U.S., and the National Pork Producers Council has called for the Department of Agriculture to make payments to producers in light of the closures. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said this week that the U.S. food supply chain remains sound.
“It’s safe, it’s resilient, and it’ll continue. We have multiple processing facilities. While some are down temporarily to clean out, [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is working with them on the best measures to protect their employees as well as to become operational again,” he told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo.
JBS, meanwhile, has closed its Greeley, Colo., meatpacking facility after 43 positive tests and two deaths. The company is one of four that account for about 85 percent of the U.S. beef market.