More than 80 COVID-19 cases found at Sioux Falls pork plant

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The Smithfield Foods Inc. factory in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, employs about 3,600 workers. Photo courtesy Joe Overman

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — More than 80 workers at the Smithfield Foods Inc. factory have tested positive for COVID-19, South Dakota Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon announced said Wednesday.

Malsam-Rysdon said the 80 confirmed cases were employees of the pork plant. She did not have a count of others who might have been infected by the employees.

Smithfield Foods Inc. issued a statement on its website indicating it would “not confirm COVID-19 cases” in its factories “(o)ut of respect for our employees’ legal privacy,” but it said employees who test positive for the disease will be quarantined with pay, and hourly production and distribution workers will receive a $500 “Responsibility Bonus.”

The company statement said “a series of stringent and detailed processes and protocols that follow the strict guidance of the CDC” have been implemented at its factories, and they have “enhanced the cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces and are continuing to stress the importance of personal hygiene.”

Smithfield Foods Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of WH Group of China, the largest pig and pork producer in the world. Smithfield employs about 3,600 workers in Sioux Falls, making it one of the area’s largest employers. The Sioux Falls plant was formerly a John Morrell factory.

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