More than 100 workers at the Farmer John plant in Vernon have contracted the coronavirus in an outbreak plaguing the facility that produces the Dodger Dog.
Thus far, 116 workers at the Smithfield-owned meat-processing plant have tested positive, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
“Our Smithfield Family members are crucial to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” Smithfield Foods said in a statement. “We thank them for keeping food on America’s tables, and have implemented aggressive measures to protect their health and safety during this pandemic.”
These include a series of strict guidelines and protocols that follow or exceed guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the company said. The company said it has boosted its supply of masks and face shields, installed plexiglass barriers on the production floor and in break areas, and implemented mass temperature scanning systems to screen workers.
Employees are offered free coronavirus testing and paid quarantine time and are told not to report to work if they are sick, the company said. The company has also relaxed its attendance policies, eliminated co-pays for coronavirus-related treatment and extended a paid leave benefit to employees deemed medically at risk, it said.
"During this pandemic, our entire industry is faced with an impossible choice: continue to operate to sustain our nation’s food supply or shutter in an attempt to entirely insulate our employees from risk," the company said in a statement issued in early May. "It’s an awful choice; it’s not one we wish on anyone. It is impossible to keep protein on tables across America if our nation’s meat plants are not running."
The outbreak at Smithfield's Vernon plant is the largest listed by the county's Public Health Department at a nonresidential setting.