Smithfield Foods Inc. announces that it will proactively suspend operations at its Monmouth, Ill., facility beginning next week and until further notice after a small portion of its 1,700 employees tested positive for COVID-19. The Monmouth plant represents approximately 3% percent of U.S. fresh pork supplies and also produces bacon. Employees will be paid during the closure.
Smithfield notes that it has been proactively and aggressively tackling COVID-19 by implementing processes, protocols and protective measures throughout its operations and remains wholly committed to doing everything in its power to help protect its team members from COVID-19 in the workplace. At the same time, it stressed that the inherent nature of meat processing, which is labor-intensive, assembly-line-style production, makes social distancing particularly challenging.
The company will continue to arm its team members with personal protective equipment like masks, which are stocked and in use at every single one of its facilities around the country. Smithfield has implemented thermal scanning companywide and installed plexiglass and other physical barriers on production floors and in break rooms. The company has been explicitly instructing employees not to report to work if they are sick and that they will be paid. It is also urging its team members to take steps to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 outside the workplace.