SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that the operators of a South Dakota meatpacking plant where about 800 workers contracted the coronavirus implement a strict social distancing policy and find ways to overcome language barriers. Over 40 languages are spoken at the plant. The CDC’s memo specifically addresses the situation at the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls but it also may give an indication of the broader recommendations the agency is working on for meat processing plants nationwide.
A CDC team toured the plant last week and reported that the company had slowed down production lines to space workers farther apart and installed about 800 Plexiglas barriers along the lines. But even though there were only a few workers left in the plant, some were still gathering closer than 6 feet apart when not at their workstations or not wearing face masks.
To overcome the language barriers, the agency recommended that Smithfield post signs with pictograms and in more languages to communicate vital information to employees.
The CDC said that Smithfield is also planning to give workers a new face mask every day and to equip production staff with face shields.