By Charlotte Smith
BladenOnline.com reached out to Smithfield Foods’ representatives and Bladen County Health Director, Dr. Teresa (Terri) Duncan this week about the status of the local Smithfield Foods facility. On Saturday morning Dr. Duncan confirmed Smithfield Foods, Tar Heel facility, does have positive reports of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases.
Dr. Duncan explained, Smithfield officials are taking each employees’ temperature before they enter the facility for work as well as following all the guidelines the CDC suggests.
“We are doing everything in our power to help protect our team members from COVID-19 in the workplace. This starts with stringent and detailed processes and protocols that follow the strict guidance of the CDC and extends to things like the use of thermal scanning, personal protective equipment, and physical barriers, to name a few. We are also being explicit with employees: ‘Do not report to work if you are sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. You will be paid,’” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president, and chief executive officer, for Smithfield last week in a press release.
No information about the exact number of Smithfield employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are in quarantine has been released due to the employees’ legal protection of privacy according to Smithfield Foods representative, Gregory Nyham. It has not been confirmed any of the positive cases are Bladen County residents.
At the time of publication Bladen County Health Department only confirms two residents have tested positive with COVID-19 since March. The first patient from Bladen County with COVID-19 was confirmed to have recovered and is doing well.
The second patient confirmed positive today with COVID-19 is isolating at home and doing well, according to Dr. Duncan. No further information about the two Bladen County patient have been released.
Smithfield Foods is one of the largest employers in Bladen County.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. More information on Smithfield’s COVID-19 response can be found here.