Smithfield, the world’s biggest pork producer, has indefinitely shuttered its sprawling pork processing facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after more than 230 workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said the sickened plant employees accounted for more than half of the active coronavirus cases in the state, CNN reported. Noem said she urged Smithfield to suspend operations at the facility for at least two weeks — a recommendation the company agreed to.
Smithfield CEO Kenneth Sullivan warned the closure of the Sioux Falls plant — which employs about 3,700 people and accounts for 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production — combined with the shutdown of other U.S. meat processing facilities ― “is pushing our country perilously close to the edge” of a meat shortfall.
“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” Sullivan said in a statement. “These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain.”
Major meat producers including JBS S.A., Cargill, Empire Kosher Poultry and Tyson Foods have also closed plants in recent weeks over coronavirus concerns.
- Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
- What you need to know about face masks right now
- How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
- Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
- How to switch off from work when home is your office
- 8 sleep tips if coronavirus anxiety is keeping you up at night
- How long does coronavirus live in the air?
- The HuffPost guide to working from home
- What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
- Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.