Smithfield Foods seems very economically anxious:
Was there any way to prevent the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in South Dakota from becoming one of the country’s largest known coronavirus clusters, with more than 700 workers infected? It’s hard to know “what could have been done differently,” a Smithfield spokesperson said, given what she referred to as the plant’s “large immigrant population.”
“Living circumstances in certain cultures are different than they are with your traditional American family,” she explained. The spokesperson and a second corporate representative pointed to an April 13 Fox News interview in which the governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, said that “99%” of the spread of infections “wasn’t happening inside the facility” but inside workers’ homes, “because a lot of these folks who work at this plant live in the same community, the same buildings, sometimes in the same apartments.”
Needless to say, this deflection is just pure racist bullshit:
But internal company communications and interviews with nearly a dozen workers and their relatives point to a series of management missteps and half measures that contributed significantly to the spread of the virus. A BuzzFeed News investigation has uncovered new information showing the company did little to inform or protect employees during the critical two weeks after the first case at the plant surfaced. Then, with confirmed cases rising quickly, Smithfield introduced new safety protocols but applied them unevenly across the plant’s departments, leaving hundreds of workers exposed.
Gatluak said he clocked in at work on April 10. For weeks, he’d been taking precautions to minimize the chances of exposing his mother and brother at home. He washed his hands regularly and sanitized everything he came into contact with, “from doorknobs to stair rail, the handles, countertops,” he said. “I know I was a risk because of where I was working.”
He began to feel a headache, fever, and chills after returning home from his shift. The next morning he called the hospital, then took a test at a drive-through center.
Definitely click through — this is an excellent and infuriating report.