SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (aberdeennews.com) – There were no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brown County today, according to the South Dakota Department of Health.
The total remained at 28, nine of them being workers at DemKota Ranch Beef.
Workers at meat packing plants across the country have been stricken with the virus, forcing plants to shut down. That has reverberated across the economy, leaving some farmers with no place to sell animals and the potential for retail food shortages.
In Aberdeen, the state is providing technical assistance to limit close contact of employees, and the state is working to get employees personal protective equipment, said Kim Malsam-Rysdon said, state health secretary.
“We want to make sure that we’re accessing all possible resources to help slow the spread in work places, in critical infrastructure workplaces like that,” she said. “They had made several changes to their operation well before we ever stepped foot in there, and we’re going to continue to work with then on changes that they can make to help that situation.”
On Thursday, the nation’s largest union representing meatpacking and food processing workers called on federal and state governments to confer emergency frontline status to those workers. That would put them on par with medical providers in allowing the industry greater priority to access protective equipment.
“America’s food processing and meatpacking workers are in extreme danger, and our nation’s food supply faces a direct threat from the coronavirus outbreak,” Marc Perrone, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union. “If workers in these plants are as essential as our elected leaders say, then it’s about time that our elected leaders provide them with the essential protections they need. Make no mistake, without national safety standards to protect these workers from the coronavirus– more lives will be lost, more workers will be exposed, and our food supply will face jeopardy.”