April 12, 2020
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.–A Sioux Falls pork plant that has been the location of nearly 300 COVID-19 infections in South Dakota has announced plans to close indefinitely.
Smithfield Foods CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan said Sunday, “the closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply. It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running. These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers. These farmers have nowhere to send their animals.”
Sullivan went on to say, “we have continued to run our facilities for one reason: to sustain our nation’s food supply during this pandemic. We believe it is our obligation to help feed the country, now more than ever. We have a stark choice as a nation, we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19.”
The Sioux Falls plant accounts for four to five-percent of U.S. pork production. It employs 3,700 people.
Smithfield announced a few days ago plans to close the plant for three days while it underwent rigorous cleaning and new social distancing barriers were to be put into place.
On Saturday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, in a letter to Sullivan, requested the plant close for a minimum 14 days.
Today, the South Dakota Health Department reported 293 infections involve employees who work at the Smithfield plant.
Now the plant is closed for the foreseeable future.