GRAND ISLAND – Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele announced that the JBS Beef Plant has 10 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. He said that this was concerning and that everyone needs to take the necessary steps to flatten the curve. Mayor Steele has received questions about why JBS is open when other businesses are closed.
The production of food and agriculture is considered an essential, critical, workforce that we need at this time. Other critical infrastructure are things like electrical system, the functions of your local and state government, national defense, and things such as delivery of fresh water to you.
He said that other businesses were closed because they were not essential and food production is essential. Zack Ireland, General Manager of the plant, said they have asked those who are sick to stay home, workers are receiving face coverings, and they have taken other steps to help stem the spread of the virus. Teresa Anderson, Executive Director of the Central District Health Department, said there is spread of the virus in three long term care facilities.
The three communities are Lakeview, Heritage, and Westville. This is something we surely did not want to see. The COVID virus is in health care workers within these facilities. The healthcare workers are now quarantined but our concern is for the folks that they were around before they became ill. Because we have community spread of the virus, our assumption is that it is actually everywhere we are.
She said the fight against the virus will last several weeks, likely eight, before they see a break in cases. Jon Rosenlund, the Hall County Emergency Manager, said they likely have many more cases than confirmed tests, which currently is at 41. He said businesses should look at having employees work from home.
Now is the time to see if you can offset your workshifts so that people can have less physical, or person to person contact with one another in the workplace. Now is the time to institute methods of social distancing in the workplace.
He said cases could skyrocket if people don’t follow CDC guidelines of social distancing and hygiene. If people want to help they can donate to the Heartland United Way and be aware of scammers. Roselund said to not be afraid, but be cautious.