Governor Tim Walz says he’s “deeply concerned” that dozens of COVID-19 illnesses have shut down Smithfield Foods’ Sioux Falls plant, a major processor of pork coming from Minnesota and other states:

“They are shut down because of what can happen if you don’t get the social distancing and you don’t get things right: You have a major manufacturing plant — in this case pork-producing — but food-producing — is shut down because of this.”

“At this point in time, we’re not hearing of any disruption to that supply chain, but… that is our deep concern, and especially being home to so many of those.”

Walz says he’s constantly talking to major manufacturers such as General Mills, Cargill and Land o’ Lakes.

“At each of these of food-producing plants, we would test every single person to see who’s already had it,… test every single person if we thought there was a case to get immediate isolation, we would have infra-red thermometers or walk-throughs at every door…. and that’s the way we could ensure that we could get back to work.”

Walz warns if people are sent back to work without proper testing and ongoing monitoring, and if “we shut down Hormel or we shut down General Mills, that becomes a national problem, not just a Minnesota problem.”

Walz says rigorous testing is needed for workers at food processing plants:

“We can’t just, I mean, risk this. Again, this goes back to that question. If we send everybody back without doing this and we shut down Hormel or we shut down General Mills, that becomes a national problem, not just a Minnesota problem.”

Walz says he “absolutely” wants COVID tests and ongoing monitoring for every worker at Minnesota food processing plants:

“We’re doing our Minnesota moonshot I think on this testing and I’m trying to figure out how to do that. Whether it’s possible or not, we’ll see, but I just think the Minnesota ingenuity and with Mayo leading the… serology-type work that, yes, that’s exactly what I envision.”