CDC releases Smithfield Foods Covid-19 outbreak report

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report Thursday on the Smithfield Foods coronavirus outbreak in Sioux Falls from March to April.

In the five page report, it talks about how the outbreak started at Smithfield and how it quickly spread.

But the report also details how the meatpacking plant responded to keep its workers and the community safe from COVID-19.

Smithfield Foods employees are still going through the medical screening tent today, but that wasn’t the case back in March.

According a new CDC report, on March 24th, the South Dakota Health Department was notified of a case of coronavirus in an employee at the meatpacking plant.

It initiated an investigation, isolated that employee and began identifying others who may have had contact with that employee.

By April 2nd, 19 cases were confirmed at the facility.

Less than two weeks later, the cases rose to 369 and the plant began a phased closure. It did not reopen while the CDC continued its investigation.

Within a one month period, the number of cases grew to 929; reporting 67 new cases per day, making it one of the nation’s hot spots. Two employees died.

When the plant completely shutdown, the number of new positive cases dropped to 10 per day according to the CDC report.

When the meatpacking plant began a partial reopening in early May, under CDC guidance and the South Dakota Health Department, it began screening all employees for fever, installing physical barriers on the production line, and amending the employee dress code to include optional masks, which were later required.

According to the CDC report, 48 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, 39 were employees and nine were personal contacts.

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