Greeley JBS Meatpacking Plant Reopens Without Testing All Employees For Coronavirus

· Apr. 24, 2020, 12:51 pm
JBS Greeley Beef PlantJBS Greeley Beef PlantHart Van Denburg/CPR News
The JBS Greeley Beef Plant on Friday April 3, 2020.

The JBS Greeley beef production facility is reopening Friday, April 24 without testing all employees for COVID-19, despite promises from the White House and plant management to do so.

The plant was ordered to close April 10 to test all employees, disinfect and implement social distancing protocols in the facility. Vice President Mike Pence discussed JBS during a White House briefing and promised resources for testing.

But the company confirmed to CPR that not all employees were tested.

The company and the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment set aside the April 10 order in favor of a new agreement. That new agreement has not been published. Weld County has not responded to requests to furnish the document.

"Rather than test all team members, the company took the more aggressive action to self-quarantine Greeley beef employees during the plant closure," said company spokesperson Nikki Richardson in an email.

During the plant closure, workers were encouraged to shelter in place, according to JBS.

On April 10, the company released a statement on their website that said it was working, "to secure COVID-19 tests for all of its team members at the Greeley, Colo., beef production facility."

JBS also promised to invest more than $1 million in COVID-19 testing kits for workers.

The company said all employees have been receiving temperature checks before entering the facility since April 2, but the union that represents workers say that isn't the case.

Before the full plant closure on April 15, some workers were allowed to park closer to the plant building and weren't screened, according to union president Kim Cordova. Maintenance workers who got to work in the early morning before the temperature gauge was set up also weren't screened, she said. Some members told the union the company said workers under a certain height were too short to be registered by the machine.

JBS said now that the facility is reopened, daily screenings of all employees will continue. Testing for COVID-19 will be provided on-site for workers who show symptoms, Richardson said. Masks are also being provided and required at all times on company property.

"Team member health and safety remains our top priority," Richardson said. "We will not operate a facility if we do not believe it is safe."

State health officials confirmed 102 JBS employees tested positive for COVID-19. Four have died.

Sarah Scoles contributed to this report.

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