21 workers at Clinton Smithfield plant test positive for COVID-19, employee says they are overworked

CLINTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Sampson County Public Health Department confirmed an active COVID-19 outbreak at the Smithfield Packing facility in Clinton.

The county public health director said there are 21 confirmed COVID-19 cases connected to the plant. The virus is causing some employees to not report to work and those who do say they are overworked.


"They're having us do two and three jobs plus our own. They're not even attempting to slow production," said one woman who works at the plant. "I don't have a choice. If I don't work I don't have a job and they said that plainly. I have kids that I have to take care of. I have to be here."

She took pictures inside the plant of employees not practicing social distancing. In the pictures, workers are seen standing right next to each other. ABC11 reached out to Smithfield Packing and have not heard back.

RELATED: 'We don't feel safe:' Smithfield Foods workers concerned about COVID-19 on the job

The employee who spoke with ABC11 said the company will offer extra cash to those who report to work.

"Starting this Friday, May 1, our pay will go up $5 an hour, but only for the first 40 hours then its back to base pay. It equals out to be only $200 extra a week," said the woman.

According to the employee, the company requires temperature checks using a meat thermometer before entering the building. Employees wear masks and are sprayed with rubbing alcohol.

"They're coming around every 20 minutes and spraying you. Mind you, we are touching meat. They say it's USDA approved. They say it's okay to spray it," she said.

The woman compared reporting to work to entering a war zone each day without combat pay.

"Even people who go to war get compensated for it," she said.
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