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Economy

Smithfield Stops Production at Monmouth Plant

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The coronavirus has showed up at another meatpacking plant in the midwest, this time in western Illinois. Friday Smithfield Foods announced its plant in Monmouth will suspend operations next week until further notice.

A small number of the 1,700 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The company says it's worked hard to protect employees in its plants, but that meat processing involves assembly line production and that makes social distancing difficult. It has provided personal protective equipment, implemented thermal scanning company-wide, and installed plexiglass and other physical barriers on production floors and in break rooms. 

Employees in Monmouth will be paid while the plant is closed.

Smithfield says the plant accounts for about three percent of U.S. fresh pork supplies and also produces bacon.