SIOUX FALLS, SD. — Smithfield Foods plans to partially reopen its facility in Sioux Falls, SD, on May 4.
According to the United Food and Commercial Workers local union and the Argus Leader, the pork processing facility asked about 250 employees to report in two staff departments – ground seasoned pork and night clean up.
"We will continue to be an aggressive, independent voice for the highest standards of safety in every plant we represent," said B.J. Motley, president of UFCW Local 304A. "These hard-working men and women are dedicated, determined and essential to the safe food supply Americans count on. We reiterate again that there is no measure not worth taking to protect these workers and believe that companies like Smithfield along with our state and federal governments all have a role in ensuring safety."
Multiple reports said that 853 Smithfield employees tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). About 3,700 people work at the plant.
As of May 4, the South Dakota Department of Health website found 2,170 confirmed cases in Minnehaha County, where the majority of Sioux Falls sits. The department said 1,497 people have recovered from COVID-19.
Smithfield previously stated the plant served as much as 5% of the US pork market. According to the company, it supplies nearly 130 million servings of food per week, or about 18 million servings per day. The plant is supplied by 550 farmers.
A team from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) toured the South Dakota plant on April 16 and 17. CDC released recommendations for Smithfield Foods executives to consider before reopening the Sioux Falls plant. The report was released on April 22.