U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) issued the following statement today on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releasing interim guidance for meat and poultry processing facilities during COVID-19:
“I am grateful the CDC struck the right balance with this guidance. When stringent regulations were rightfully issued for the Smithfield processing plant, my colleagues and I reached out to Secretary Perdue to make sure the Administration realizes most plants do not need that same heavy hand. This guidance makes it clear our concerns were heard. I thank the Administration for listening to farm country and working with us to ensure our robust food supply chain, which is critical to weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, remains in place.”
Senator Cramer and a group of his colleagues spoke with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue about this guidance last week.
According to the CDC, all meat and poultry processing facilities developing plans to continue operating during COVID-19 should:
- work directly with appropriate state and local public health officials and occupational safety and health professionals;
- incorporate CDC guidance like this interim guidance and the CDC’s Critical Infrastructure Guidance; and
- follow guidance from other authoritative sources or regulatory bodies as needed.
CDC’s interim guidance outlines an assessment and control plan for meat and poultry processors. It includes straightforward rules for handling communal work environments while practicing social distancing, educating employees on best practices, screening workers for signs of early symptoms, properly using personal protective equipment (PPE), and managing workers who appear sick from the moment they show symptoms to the time they are cleared to return.