Major pork processor closes 2 Illinois facilities amid coronavirus pandemic

Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest pork processor, is the latest meat packing plant to close facilities in light of the pandemic.

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The Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, — which has one of the country’s largest known coronavirus clusters — pictured on April 20.

The Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, — which has one of the country’s largest known coronavirus clusters — pictured on April 20.

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Amid allegations they haven’t provided adequate protective equipment for employees during the coronavirus pandemic, Smithfield Foods, Inc., one of the world’s largest pork processors, will close two of its Illinois facilities indefinitely.

In a statement released Friday, Smithfield announced plans to suspend operations at its Monmouth, Illinois facility — about 215 miles west of Chicago — next week after a “small portion” of its 1,700 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The Kane County Health Department also ordered Smithfield to close its St. Charles facility immediately. Officials will “work with the company in mitigation efforts as well as providing education relative to social distancing and employee safety relative to personal protective equipment,” according to the health department.

Employees will be paid during the closures, the company said.

The news comes after a lawsuit filed Thursday in Missouri federal court accused Smithfield of failing to provide employees at a Missouri plant adequate protective equipment, NBC News reported. The lawsuit also alleges that Smithfield refused to give employees time to wash their hands.

The Monmouth plant accounts for about 3% of the nation’s fresh pork supplies, according to Smithfield, which also produces bacon.

Smithfield is the latest meat packing plant to close its facility in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Tyson Foods, Inc. closed at least four of its facilities — two in Iowa, one in Indiana and another in Washington — to test employees for COVID-19.

Other major meat-packing plants, including JBS USA and Cargill Inc., have also shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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