Union: Second JBS worker dead from COVID-19; company announces testing for Greeley workers

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GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) – A meat production facility that employs thousands of workers will provide free COVID-19 tests for all employees at the Greeley plant, according to company leaders.

“While the measures we have taken within our facility to improve safety have made a positive impact, COVID-19 remains a threat across the United States and in Weld County, which is why we are investing more than $1 million in COVID-19 testing kits for our team members,” said Andre Nogueira, JBS USA CEO. 

The company confirmed at least 36 people have tested positive for the virus. 

The union that represents the meat production workers, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, said it believes the number of sick workers is closer to 50.  

According to Kim Cordova, the UFCW Local 7 president, two people have now died.

“Local 7 demands that the JBS plant be closed immediately, for a period of no less than seven days during which the entirety of the actual physical plant, and the surrounding property owned by JBS, will be subjected to extensive and repeated deep cleanings,” said Cordova in a Friday letter addressed to Gov. Jared Polis and the executive director of the Weld County health department.

“This action must be taken without delay to protect the lives or our members, JBS employees, and, potentially, the general public. Only then, assuming that the appropriate health authorities believe that the plant is free from the COVID-19 virus, should it re-open,” she wrote.

READ: Letter from Cordova demanding closure of Greeley plant

Company leaders said they recently stepped up safety precautions and other health measures. They are now using infrared cameras to test workers’ temperatures as they enter the facility. They’ve also set up partitions at various workstations and in the cafeteria.

“We are grateful to Governor Polis and Senator Gardner, who have helped us procure the tests, and for all they are doing to protect Coloradans,” said Nogueira. “We also thank Vice President Mike Pence for his leadership in prioritizing the safety of our workforce and the integrity of the food supply, which is a critical infrastructure industry for us all.”

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