Originally Published May 21, 2020
Like other meatpacking facilities across the country, the Farmer John plant in Vernon — which manufactures the iconic Dodger Dog — has had an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
At least 140 people who work for the Smithfield Foods-owned plant have tested positive over the past few months, according to Freddie Agyin, Director of the Health and Environmental Control Department in the City of Vernon.
He said they were first alerted to a cluster of six cases in the ham deboning department at the plant in mid-April.
When asked for comment, Smithfield said they’ve taken a number of steps to enhance worker safety, including installing plastic barriers, performing regular temperature checks, offering free virus testing, and distributing additional protective equipment, including masks and face shields.
However, some employees still feel unsafe and think the company should do more as the number of cases continues to grow.
Twenty-four additional cases were reported to Vernon’s Health and Environmental Control Department over the past week. It’s unclear if the rise in cases is due to additional testing or the virus continuing to spread amongst workers at the plant.
— JACOB MARGOLIS
This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2020 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.