NC Department of Labor investigating 7 coronavirus-related complaints at Smithfield Tar Heel plant

TAR HEEL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Department of Labor is investigating seven coronavirus-related complaints regarding the Smithfield Foods plant in Tar Heel.

The labor department confirmed the investigation to ABC11 on Friday but would not provide more details, citing the fact that the cases are still open.

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

This comes as a union for the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in South Dakota, where more than 850 workers tested positive, announced it will partially reopen Monday after shuttering for more than two weeks.

"We toured the plant and feel the additional measures implemented will allow employees to work safely, while continuing to follow (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and recommendations," Dori Ditty, the health officer for the county where the Tyson plant is located, said in a statement.

5 employees at Smithfield Packing Company plant in Clinton test positive for COVID-19

A Robeson County Health Department spokesperson said 46 Robeson County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 work at the Tar Heel plant.

There are likely other cases in residents from other counties.

ABC11 previously spoke to two employees who tested positive.

Terry Brooks 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," said Brooks.

Sacha Bettis is 30 weeks pregnant and said shortness of breath is the only symptom she experienced. She works on the porkchop case ready line.

"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 state health department confirms there have been 694 confirmed cases in 16 outbreaks at meat processing plants across North Carolina in the following counties: Bertie, Bladen, Chatham, Duplin, Lee, Lenoir, Robeson, Sampson, Union, Wilkes and Wilson.
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