SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Smithfield Foods is not only a COVID-19 “hot spot” in South Dakota. According to the New York Times, it’s one of the worst hotspots in the United States. Sioux Falls Public Health Director Jill Franken’s department was able to tour the facility.
More than 35% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Dakota are tied to the Smithfield Foods facility in central Sioux Falls.
“Yesterday staff from my department met with leadership at Smithfield and conducted a walk-through of the plant,” Franken said. “We were able to validate that Smithfield has implemented a number of efforts to control the spread of this virus, of COVID-19, and Smithfield management was very receptive to having our team conduct the walk-through and offer additional mitigation efforts or recommendations.”
Franken stresses the familiar theme of social distancing.
“When people are coming from their cars to the tent where they’re actually doing the temperature checks, etcetera, having them space out even before they get to that spot,” Franken said. “Those are, that was just one small thing, but a big thing, in terms of, keeping people distanced from each other, even as they’re approaching the entrance.”
She says the facility is encouraging people to cover their faces. The city wants that taken a step further.
“Requiring that, instead of having it be voluntary would be something that we would recommend that they take into action,” Franken said. “And then adding additional screening questions in addition to taking employee temperatures is another action that we thought they should be taking, and so they’ve been notified of those recommendations.”
She also says she’ll be following up with Smithfield next week.
KELOLAND News talked with Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken Friday afternoon. You can hear from him in an exclusive interview coming up on KELOLAND News at 6 and 10 p.m. Friday night.
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