Two Smithfield Foods workers at Tar Heel plant test positive for COVID-19

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Smithfield Foods packing plant in Tar Heel is still operating despite at least two employees testing positive for COVID-19.

The workers said they are disappointed the company would put so many lives at risk.

"I feel it's greed and poor management," worker Terry Brooks said.

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

Terry Brooks just received positive COVID-19 results. He was sent home from the hospital and is now in quarantine. The Army veteran got tested for the virus after experiencing chest tightness. He said two of his coworkers didn't show up for work because they tested positive.

"When the freight elevator comes up, I load their boxes for them so they can have them downstairs for the people who put meat in the boxes. He comes up there every day," said Brooks.

Smithfield employees worry they've contracted COVID-19 at North Carolina packing plant

Another Smithfield employee who works on the porkchop case ready line also tested positive.

Sacha Bettis is 30 weeks pregnant and said shortness of breath is the only symptom she experienced.

"My heart dropped. I have kids around every day," said Bettis. "I'm never away from my kids so I automatically started thinking what if my kids have it?"

The results frightened her family, including her husband who is a firefighter in Fayetteville.

"So now he has to get tested to make sure he's not positive. If he's positive everybody in the firehouse has to get tested," said Bettis.

Fortunately, his results came back negative.

Both employees said the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel needs to take action before it's too late.
"The place needs to be closed down. Everybody needs to be tested like they did in South Dakota," said Brooks

We reached out to Smithfield Foods, and a representative said that out of respect for employees legal privacy, the facility will not confirm COVID-19 cases in the facility. ABC11 was directed to its website. On their website, it states in part the following:

We have instituted a series of stringent and detailed processes and protocols that follow the strict guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to effectively manage any potential COVID-19 cases in our operations. These include mandatory 14-day COVID-19 related quarantines with pay as an uncompromising effort to protect our dedicated employees. We've also relaxed attendance policies to eliminate any punitive effect for missing work due to COVID-19 diagnosis or quarantine.

In addition, we are taking the following measures to minimize our team members' risks of catching COVID-19:
Added extra hand sanitizing stations
Boosted personal protective equipment

Continuing to stress importance of personal hygiene
Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
Expanded employee health benefits
Implementing thermal scanning
Increased social distancing in common areas
Installed plexiglass barriers
Restricting all nonessential visitors

All these actions complement the extensive safety measures in place at all our locations and are on top of the extremely hygienic and sanitary environments maintained at all times in our industry for food safety and quality purposes. We're also ensuring employees know how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and making certain that they know how COVID-19 spreads. We continue to actively monitor CDC guidance, as well as that of state and local health authorities and are immediately taking all necessary actions to protect our employees.
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