Noem expects Smithfield plant to reopen in phases, shares revenue concerns for the state

Coronavirus

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem says she was part of a call on Saturday afternoon with Smithfield Foods on reopening the plant.

The governor says Smithfield Foods hasn’t shared its reopening plan with her or Mayor TenHaken, even though it partially reopened on Monday. Noem says she’s disappointed the plant didn’t share its plan with the state.

She says she believes the plant fully reopening will come in phases. Because of an executive order from President Donald Trump, USDA, OSHA and the CDC is overseeing the plant. A CDC team toured it Monday morning.

The Department of Health has established an optional mass testing event for Smithfield employees and their family members, says Gov. Noem, though it is not required for workers to return to the plant. She says the testing will also include asymptomatic people.

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says mass testing events will be part of the state’s COVID-19 response plan going forward though she doesn’t expect to see universal, on-demand testing.

Governor Noem touched on the revenue impact during the briefing. She says the numbers from March are in. The state is down millions in the general fund. Noem says this is only part of what she expects.

The biggest hits happened to hotels, restaurants and clothing stores. Noem says a worse impact will be from April numbers.

Governor Noem says she’s had people reach out to her asking how the “Back To Normal” plan impacts them personally and also their businesses. She reminded South Dakotans of their personal responsibility to limit their exposure to the virus and to protect people in vulnerable populations.

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