Protein Processing Plants Hit Hard by Virus

Smithfield Foods announced Sunday the company was closing its Sioux Falls, S.D., facility indefinitely after state officials reported the plant accounted for nearly 40 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the state. South Dakota’s governor demanded the plant close for at least two weeks.

Smithfield previously announced it would suspend operations at the pork plant for three days. The state’s Department of Health reported that 238 of the 626 COVID-19 cases in South Dakota involved workers at the Smithfield plant, the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader reported.

Packing plants around the country now are among the most significant hotspots for COVID-19 cases in the country.

Tyson, Cargill, JBS SA, National Beef and other major packers have also each faced similar shutdown scenarios. On Friday, JBS announced it would close its Greeley, Colo., beef plant for at least three days after 36 workers there tested positive, and Colorado media reported two workers from the plant had died.

The Smithfield plant accounts for roughly 5 percent of all pork production in the U.S.