South Dakota food plant temporarily closes after workers test positive for COVID-19https://t.co/n7yUm84nwi
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South Dakota gov on statewide hydroxychloroquine trial: ‘I am a lot better being on offense’
Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem appeared on “Your World with Neil Cavuto” Monday to discuss the implementation of astatewide clinical trial for the experimental antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.
“I’m a lot better being on offense than I am on defense, and when COVID-19 started to hit our country and our state, I started to think of ways that we could work together to be aggressive to fight this,” Noem told Cavuto Monday.
“Today we announced that we are partnering with all three of our major health care systems in the state for the first statewide, state backed clinical trial, using [hydroxychloroquine] to be able to make sure that we’re protecting our citizens and treating them. Those that are at high risk, our health care providers and then also other patients in the state.”
South Dakota is the first state in the country to institute a program exploring the potential effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating and preventing coronavirus.
“So we’re set up right now to treat up to 100,000 people in the state of South Dakota, and we’ll be the first statewide and state-backed and endorsed clinical trial using hydroxy in this form,” Noem said.
Noem also addressed the recent closure of a Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls due to the coronavirus outbreak, saying the food supply chain is a matter of national security.
“The plant is taking a pause, allowing its employees time to heal and to get back up and running, using some mitigation efforts to protect their employees,” Noem said. ” … There’s still a big part of our national security, that’s providing a safe and effective food supply for this country.”
The plant was forced to close Sunday after hundreds of its approximately 3,700 employees tested positive for COVID-19. According to Smithfield, the Sioux Falls plant accounted for “4 to 5 percent” of the entirety of U.S. pork production.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday reported that 190 cases of COVID-19 have been tied to an outbreak at a Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls.
The Republican governor said the state Health Department has stepped up mitigation efforts at the plant and declared a public health emergency in Minnehaha County, where the plant is located. The outbreak tied to the plant is the largest known hotspot in the state, accounting for 1 in 3 confirmed cases.
State epidemiologist Josh Clayton said the 190 cases were primarily plant employees.
Smithfield Foods announced Thursday it would be closing the plant for three days over the weekend to clean and install barriers. There has been no evidence that the coronavirus is being transmitted through food or its packaging, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Noem called Smithfield’s actions so far “appropriate,” although some workers and their families have said the company hasn’t done enough.
Noem said six people from the Smithfield outbreak have required hospitalization or health care so far.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The state reported Friday that 536 people have tested positive for the virus statewide, an increase of 89 people from the day before. That’s the largest day-to-day jump in confirmed cases in South Dakota so far. Six people have died.
The governor intensified her action in Minnehaha County with the declaration of a public health emergency that would allow health officials to compel people affected by COVID-19 to quarantine.
She defended Smithfield’s efforts to clean the Sioux Falls plant, distance workers in lunchrooms, and screen their temperature at the facility entrance, saying that media reports detailing worker’s complaints had not told the full story.
Noem said she had not spoken directly with the union representing workers at the plant, but had spoken with Smithfield CEO Ken Sullivan multiple times this week.
“I’m having really honest, frank conversations with Smithfield,” she said.
She said that overall, she felt the state is in a good place with its COVID-19 numbers, noting that they are lower than what she projected a month ago.