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Texas meatpacking plant remains open amid COVID-19 outbreak at the facility

Pilgrim’s Pride processing plant employees wear personal protection equipment at the workers entrance on Webber Street. (JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin Daily News)
Pilgrim’s Pride processing plant employees wear personal protection equipment at the workers entrance on Webber Street. (JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin Daily News) (KPRC)

HOUSTON – A Texas meat processing plant that is the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in Angelina County will remain open, according to a company statement.

Employees at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Lufkin represent 50 of the 107 confirmed cases in the county, according to the Angelina County Office of Emergency Management. The county’s one COVID-19 death was a Pilgrim’s Pride worker.

“We will not operate a facility if we do not believe it is safe, and we are doing all we can to prevent this virus from entering our facility,” Nikki Richardson, a corporate communications officer for JBS USA and Pilgrim’s, told Lufkin Daily News. “The health and safety of our team members providing food for us all during this unprecedented time remains our highest priority.”

Lufkin city manager Keith Wright said the problem Pilgrim’s is facing is not abnormal, as a growing number of meatpacking plants of the country face similar COVID-19-related struggles, Lufkin Daily News reports.

“We’re not the only ones experiencing it; it’s the same thing at Tyson in Center, (Texas)” he said. “Pilgrim’s has made some adjustments and the health district is working with them to minimize that. Since the outbreak, they’ve been dealing with improvements.”

The National Guard is headed to test all the Pilgrim’s Pride workers at a plant in West Virginia, according to WHSV. The plant employs more than 1,000 people, but as of Friday, at least 15 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.


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