SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — Smithfield, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods announced Wednesday it will close two meat-packing facilities in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and Martin City, Missouri, later this week.
The Wisconsin dry sausage and bacon plant will be offline for two weeks. The Missouri plant will likely be offline longer because it depends on another plant that is shuttered indefinitely.
Smithfield Foods said the plant in Missouri normally receives raw materials from the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Smithfield plant, which is closed indefinitely due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Because those materials are no longer being sent from the South Dakota plant, the Missouri plant cannot continue either.
The South Dakota facility, which is now the number one coronavirus hotspot in the United States, will reopen once it receives “further direction” from officials on the local, state and federal levels.
On Wednesday, South Dakota Department of Health officials confirmed 80 new cases among Smithfield employees, as well as 126 cases connected to those Smithfield Foods employees. The total is now at 644 cases connected to the plant.
Both the Wisconsin and Missouri facilities are close to urban areas where COVID-19 has been prevalent, the company said in a news release. A “small number” of employees at both the Missouri and Wisconsin facilities have tested positive for the disease, as well.
Employees will be paid for the next two weeks. During that time, essential personnel will also deep clean and sanitize the facility.
“From farm to fork, our nation’s food workers, American family farmers and the many others in the supply chain are vital to the security of our country. This is particularly evident as we battle COVID-19 together. Please join me in thanking them,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer, for Smithfield.
Sullivan went on to say the company is doing “everything in our power to help protect our team members from COVID-19 in the workplace,” starting with using thermal scanning, personal protective equipment and physical barriers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence COVID-19 can be transmitted in food or food packaging.
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