SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the COVID-19 pandemic grows, one of the largest hot spots of cases in the country right now is Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says 190 positive COVID-19 cases are linked to the plant.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken says the number of cases at Smithfield grew rapidly over recent days. According to the company, much of the operations at the plant will stop tomorrow, and it’ll be entirely closed Sunday and Monday.
“Do I feel that Smithfield has taken the right steps so far, I do,” TenHaken says. “They’re going to be closed for three days. They’re going to change some of their practices, gonna change some of their procedures, but that’s not a hall pass from the City to say, ‘Great, you’re doing a three-day shutdown, on you go.'”
But is that amount of time enough?
“A three-day closure right now feels adequate based on what they told me they have already done and what they’re going to implement over the three days,” TenHaken said. “I’m anxious to see the effect that that has. The challenge is, some of these effects and some of these changes you make now, you don’t see the effects for several weeks down the road.”
He says the fact that a lot of people have been tested is contributing to the number of cases. He also says he doesn’t want to see any bigotry rear its head with these developments towards the population that works at the plant.
“I want to make sure that any sort of racism or hatred towards people of color, towards our immigrant community, does not surface during this,” TenHaken says.
TenHaken says further accountability with the Sioux Falls Health Department as well as the state will happen.