FRANKFORT, Ky. — Governor Andy Beshear said the state has been in contact with Kentucky meat processing plants as more employees test positive for COVID-19. As of Saturday, the Kentucky Department for Public Health was aware of 313 positive cases and one death in facilities across the state.
The deceased was an employee at JBS USA in Jefferson County. There have been 44 other cases at that facility. There have been 162 cases at Perdue Farms in Ohio County, 19 at Specialty Food Group in Daviess County, 2 at Tyson Foods in Lincoln County, and 85 at Tyson Foods Plant in Henderson County.
The governor confirmed Tyson Foods in Henderson and JBS USA in Louisville have both agreed to close for a short period of time for cleaning. Henderson County released a statement from Tyson Foods saying the company would cancel production Thursday through Sunday for cleaning and additional sanitation efforts.
Governor Beshear said Perdue Farms, which has 162 positive cases, has not been as cooperative as Tyson Foods and JBS USA.
“We can’t ask people to walk into a very dangerous situation if we and an employer aren’t doing everything they can to make things safe. We are going to continue to take steps and we will do what it takes to make those facilities as safe as we can. I continue to believe that, if you have to shut down for three days but it means you can create a safer, healthier environment, that may keep you from having to shut down for multiple weeks or even a month,” Beshear said during his Friday briefing.
This comes after President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week to require American meat processing plants to stay open during the pandemic. His order is meant to prevent what meat processors claim is an imminent breakdown in the nation's food supply chain.