Apr 12, 2020 - Health

One of America's largest pork processing plants closes due to coronavirus

A meat section at a grocery store

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A Smithfield pork processing plant in South Dakota is closing after 240 of its employees fell ill with COVID-19, per CNN.

Why it matters: The plant accounts for 4–5% of all pork production in the U.S. and employs approximately 3,700 workers. The 240 Smithfield cases account for more than half of South Dakota's confirmed cases, which total 430.

What they're saying:

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply. It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running. These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers.”
— Smithfield President and CEO Kenneth Sullivan

The big picture: America isn't running out of food. But as Axios reported last month, there's increasing strain on the supply chain as the workers who produce and deliver our groceries are sheltering at home, quarantined or are (justifiably) too spooked to show up for work.

Go deeper: The workers feeding America

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