545 cases via one meatpacking plant

News from South Dakota:

Gov. Kristi Noem reiterated Tuesday that she won’t be ordering South Dakota residents to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic, as another 121 confirmed cases were reported in the state. The majority of South Dakota’s 988 total cases – 768 – are in Minnehaha County, which includes the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, the site of one of the largest known clusters of COVID-19 cases in the country. 

That’s ok. The people who work there are mostly immigrants, so nobody cares what happens to them. The virus won’t spread from the plant to the world outside the plant because Donald Trump would never let that happen.

CBS affiliate KELO-TV reports Noem said 70% of the county’s cases could be traced to the plant: 438 employees and an additional 107 people who had contact with employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to a New York Times analysis, as of Tuesday, the 545 cases made the Smithfield Plant the second largest hotspot in the country, surpassing Chicago’s Cook County Jail and trailing only under the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Well there’s your answer – just lock the doors of the plant with the workers inside.

Despite the numbers, Noem said she would not issue a stay-at-home order for Minnehaha and nearby Lincoln Counties, as Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken requested. Noem said a stay-at-home order wouldn’t have made a difference in Sioux Falls because the plant would have remained open as part of a critical infrastructure business.

“This plant here is incredibly important, not just to Sioux Falls, not just to South Dakota, but to our nation. It provides our food for us,” Noem said.

Not true, actually. The plant produces bacon, which is a treat rather than a staple, and the sales of bacon have tanked because of all the restaurant and fast food joint closures.

Smithfield’s CEO, Kenneth Sullivan, issued a statement that sounded like a protest.

“We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19,” he wrote, warning that closing such plants “is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.”

Several industry analysts, however, disputed Sullivan’s dire predictions of meat shortages.

In fact, the pork industry is currently dealing with a glut of its product due to a collapse of demand from chain restaurants and food service companies that supply corporate cafeterias and schools.

And bacon is mostly fat and salt anyway; it’s a lousy source of protein.

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