A team from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has arrived in Sioux Falls to help with the Smithfield Foods coronavirus hotspot, which has become the biggest single-source of cases in the United States.
Eighty of South Dakota’s 180 new COVID-19 cases are Smithfield Foods employees, bringing the total to 518 Smithfield employees who have tested positive. There are also now 126 total cases of non-employees that became infected when they came into contact with a Smithfield employee, according to the South Dakota Department of Health.
The 518 employees and 126 non-employees connected to Smithfield makes it the largest cluster in the country (644), according to tracking by the New York Times. The previous top cluster was 585 cases aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam.
Smithfield announced on Sunday that it would be closing its Sioux Falls plant indefinitely on Wednesday. The plant has 3,700 employees.
Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted on Wednesday that the CDC team was arriving on Wednesday to help the state assess the situation.
Coronavirus update: Cases surpass 1,100 in South Dakota with 166 more in Minnehaha County
Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said they requested the CDC bring in occupational health experts to help the state understand Smithfield’s coronavirus situation and what the company can do to protect its workers. Smithfield is cooperating with the state and they look forward to the mitigation efforts so the plant can reopen, Malsam-Rysdon said. MORE