Stay-at-home order would not have prevented virus outbreak at food plant, governor says

An explosive outbreak of coronavirus at the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota could not have been prevented by a stay-at-home order, Gov. Kristi Noem argued in a news conference on Tuesday.

Noem is one of a handful of governors who has refused to issue such an order, rejecting a request from Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken.

“I’ve seen some national stories written that a shelter-in-place would have prevented this outbreak at Smithfield. That is absolutely false,” Noem said. 

The plant accounts for 4% to 5% of US pork production and employs about 3,700 people, according to Smithfield.

The governor said that even with a broad order, the facility would have stayed open due to its status as a major food supplier. “This is a critical infrastructure job plant,” she said.

As of Tuesday, 438 Smithfield workers in Sioux Falls had tested positive for coronavirus, and the plant is shut down indefinitely. But Noem said even a shelter-in-place order targeted only at the surrounding community would not be coming from her office.

“That could be a local decision that the mayor and city council could choose to do,” Noem said.

Source CNN

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