Testing, prevention measures in place for JBS meatpacking plant reopening

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WELD COUNTY, Colo. — The JBS meatpacking plant and the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment have put criteria in place for the plant to reopen Friday, including all employees being required to wear face masks through their shift and testing employees who show symptoms.

The plant will also implement physical distancing measures for all workers, according to a news release from the health department.

Employees will be screened for symptoms daily upon entry to the plant. If an employee shows symptoms, they’ll be tested on site.

The announcement for 6,000 employees to return to work came two weeks after an outbreak at the plant led the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) as well as the county department to close the plant for two weeks.

A union president this week criticized the scheduled reopening of the plant.

“I think the workers are being sacrificed,” Kim Cordova, the president of the union representing JBS employees, told Denver7. “I think that this could potentially be a death sentence.”

Since the massive beef slaughterhouse closed on April 10, four employees have died from the novel coronavirus, and recently released numbers from the state show 102 JBS employees in Weld County have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Documents from the state of Colorado and Weld County obtained by Contact7 Investigates called for testing of all employees before the plant reopened. On the same day, JBS pledged to spend more than $1 million to test its Greeley employees.