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Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

County Health Officials Worry Meatpacking Plants Are Reopening Too Soon

 

Meatpacking plants are starting to reopen after President Trumpsignedan executive order intended to prevent shortages.Now, some county health officials are weighing in, and say they’re concerned plants in their areas weren’t closed long enough.

TheSmithfieldmeatpacking plant in Monmouth, Illinois, for example, reported its first positive COVID-19 case in mid-April and shut down completely a couple of weeks later.

Itreopenedafter being closed for less than a week. 

“It would have been ideal to have 14 days from that last day to kind of see who may have been exposed and who might develop symptoms,” says Jenna Link, an administrator for theWarren County Health Departmentwhere the Smithfield plant is based.

Due to the president’s executive order, they weren’t given that option, says Link. And without it, she says she’s worried that reopening the plant could lead to even more infections, especially stemming from those who are asymptomatic.

“It's one thing that the cases that we know of that are confirmed, but there's probably a lot out there that we don't know about that aren't isolated,” she says. “So that's really the biggest concern is just the impact it could have on our community.”

According to a representative from Smithfield, the company is adhering toguidancefrom the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in reopening the plant.

That includes providing employees with more personal protection equipment, installing plexiglass barriers throughout the plant where social distancing can’t be maintained, disinfecting more often and doing routine symptom screening of all employees.

Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaHCronin

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