The situation at Smithfield Foods is the first thing South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem addressed at her news conference on Thursday at the Capitol in Pierre.
Governor Noem says she’s been in close communication with Smithfield’s president over the last 24 hours.
“The health and safety of the Smithfield employees and the community’s public health is paramount,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said.
On Wednesday, South Dakota’s Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon confirmed more than 80 employees have tested positive for the COVID-19.
During Thursday’s news conference, Secretary Malsam-Rysdon said she didn’t have an updated number of employees who have tested positive.
“We’re continuing to investigate all positive cases, including contact tracing of those positive cases,” South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Ryson said.
The Secretary was also asked if there is a concern over products potentially being contaminated.
“We do not have that concern at the Department of Health. Again, we will continue to work with management and folks at Smithfield to ensure that moving forward, that’s not a concern in the future,” Secretary Malsam-Rysdon said.
According to the FDA, there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with COVID-19 transmission.
Smithfield says the plant provides nearly 130 million servings of food per week in the U.S.
“A pandemic like this can get a lot worse if we can’t feed our people, and so I do appreciate their commitment to doing the right things and the steps they’ve actively brought forward and we’ll continue to work with them,” Gov. Noem said.