April 9, 2020
PIERRE, S.D.–As COVID-19 infections continue to rise in South Dakota, one Sioux Falls employer has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the state.
The union that represents workers at the Smithfield Foods plant says more than 120 workers at the plan have become infected with the coronavirus. The plant employs about 2,800 people.
Today, Governor Kristi Noem’s Senior Advisor, Maggie Seidel, released the following statement:
“The Governor has been in close communication with Smithfield President and CEO Ken Sullivan over the last 24 hours. The health and safety of the Smithfield employees and the protection of our food supply is paramount.
Over the coming days, Smithfield will be taking additional steps to protect its workforce, especially those who are most vulnerable, against the spread of this virus. The plant will undergo a temporary closure, expand its already rigorous cleaning and sanitation practices, add new physical barriers to promote further social distancing, and provide paid time off for employees with a COVID diagnosis or quarantine.
As Mr. Sullivan outlined in his announcement this morning, this plant supplies nearly 130 million servings of food per week, or about 18 million servings per day, to our country. As all South Dakotans know, we take pride in feeding America – from the farm through plants like these to our homes.
The Governor is appreciative of the decisive action Smithfield is taking this morning to protect its critical workers during this difficult time.
Over the coming weeks, the South Dakota Department of Health will be working closely with Smithfield leadership and plant management to help ensure all CDC guidelines are followed both inside and outside the workplace.”