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St. Charles' Smithfield Foods plant closes due to COVID-19 concerns; at least 1 employee hospitalized with virus

April 25, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The Smithfield Meat Processing Plant in St. Charles has closed indefinitely Saturday night due to COVID-19 concerns.

(WLS) -- The Smithfield Meat Processing Plant in St. Charles has closed indefinitely Saturday night due to COVID-19 concerns. The Kane County Health Department ordered the temporary closure of the meat processing plant, as officials work to find out the number of employees who are sick with the virus. The daughter of a Smithfield employee who's in the hospital battling the deadly virus spoke with ABC7 Saturday.

Her family believes she contracted the virus at the facility. "She ended up in the hospital when she lost consciousness because her O2 levels were so low," the family member said. The woman's family claims that at least 19 workers have tested positive for the virus at the St. Charles plant alone. But Smithfield Foods - one of the country's leading protein companies - will not say if they have any COVID-19 positive employees at the plant, citing privacy concerns. The Kane County Health Department said they are looking into the number of cases linked to the facility. "They are hiding behind non-disclosure agreements, HIPAA, they are not notifying their employees when they come in contact with other employees who have COVID," the family member said. The closure at the St. Charles plant comes just days after a worker filed a federal lawsuit against Smithfield Foods, alleging unsafe working conditions at the companies plant in Missouri. Other Smithfield food plants in the Midwest have closed because of COVID-19, including one in Cudahy, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee.

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