The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday announced a fine of just $13,494 against a major meat processing company whose persistent and egregious failure to protect South Dakota factory employees from Covid-19 caused at least 1,294 infections, 43 hospitalizations, and four deaths.
Smithfield Foods, Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant was in April dubbed "the country's biggest coronavirus hot spot."
The Sioux Falls plant, at one point in April accounted for 44% of all of South Dakota's positive coronavirus cases. That same month, Smithfield offered Sioux Fall employees a $500 "responsibility bonus" for showing up to work amid growing health concerns.
"I feel like they're bribing us with money to come to work sick," one unnamed worker told the local Argus Leader. "That's how you know they don't care, because they're forcing people to come to work. People are forcing themselves to come to work even when they're sick."
Smithfield attempted in July to quash an OSHA subpoena for the company's Covid-19 test results, characterizing the document request as an invasion of privacy and violation of the company's due process rights.