CDC provides guidance to reopening Smithfield plant |

CDC provides guidance to reopening Smithfield plant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided a report to the South Dakota Health Department on reopening the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls and Gov. Kristi Noem has released it.

The report “contains the key for getting all the nation’s closed meat plants up and running,” Food Safety News, the newsletter of the Marler-Clark law firm in Seattle, reported today.

“The CDC team used the report to call upon Smithfield Foods to implement stronger measures to control the spread of COVID-19 when the plant re-opens,” Food Safety News said.

South Dakota has more than 2,000 cases, KELOLAND TV in Sioux Falls reported.

Of that total, health officials say about 800 Smithfield Foods employees and more than 200 people who had close contact with them have tested positive for coronavirus infection.

The Smithfield employees “have a bit of relief because they have been able to have some time off,” Sioux Falls AFL-CIO President Kooper Caraway said.

“They don’t have that anxiety where they were going to work and then possibly coming home and even if they don’t have symptoms maybe spreading the virus to loved ones.”

But he says there are also feelings of confusion and frustration.

“Not only Smithfield workers, but workers all over Sioux Falls are just getting mixed signals all over the place. You’ll hear one thing from your employer, you’ll hear another thing from your union, you’ll hear another thing from the city government, and a whole other thing from the state government, and then a whole other thing from the federal government. Working-class folks are pretty frustrated and confused,” Caraway said.

Caraway says Smithfield workers are eager to return to work.

“The workers love their job. They love working there. They love job security. They love their regular pay and benefit increases, and they love their fellow co-workers. They just don’t want to be in a position where they put themselves or their community or their family at risk,” Caraway said.

–The Hagstrom Report

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