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CDC releases report on Smithfield COVID-19 cases study

 The Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., is seen Wednesday, April 8, 2020, where health officials reported more than 80 employees have confirmed cases of the coronavirus (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)
The Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., is seen Wednesday, April 8, 2020, where health officials reported more than 80 employees have confirmed cases of the coronavirus (AP Photo/Stephen Groves) (WNDU)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 2:23 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its report following a case study on Smithfield’s COVID-19 outbreak, increasing the total number of cases connected to the plant.

The pork processing plant in Sioux Falls was once the country’s largest coronavirus hotbed before it closed its doors on April 12.

According to the study, it only took five weeks for positive cases at Smithfield to eclipse 900. The study states that between March 16 and April 25, 929 of the 3,635 employees tested positive for COVID-19, along with 210 close contacts. Of the positive cases, two employees died. Previously, the publically released number of positive cases was 853.

The South Dakota Department of Health was first notified of the processing plant’s first case on March 24. The employee had last worked on March 14, developed symptoms on March 16, and was tested on March 22. Between March 22 and March 28, 33 employees tested positive. By April 11, a total of 369 cases.

The study outlined cases from several different departments. The study found departments in which employees worked less than six feet from one another experienced the highest transmission rates.

In a joint media call with state health officials Thursday, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Officer Dr. Jonathan Steinberg said the disease spread rapidly at the processing plant.

Smithfield resumed operations on May 7. The study found cases were declining prior to the April 12 closure due to policies Smithfield was implementing.

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