For meat plant workers, virus makes a hard job perilous

Coronavirus

The Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., is seen Wednesday, April 8, 2020, where health officials reported more than 80 employees have confirmed cases of the coronavirus (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The Smithfield Foods plant has reported 636 infections in employees and another 143 in people connected to them.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A cluster of coronavirus cases at a South Dakota pork plant has highlighted the susceptibility of meat processing workers, who stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the line and congregate in crowded spaces.

The Smithfield Foods plant has reported 636 infections in employees and another 143 in people connected to them. Because the workers who slaughter and pack the nation’s meat are vulnerable, so, too, is the supply of that meat. Union leaders wish more had been done sooner at the Smithfield plant.

The company says difficulty in getting masks and thermal scanners led to delays in implementing safety measures. But it added hand-sanitizing stations and was scanning employee temperatures before the plant closed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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