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South Dakota COVID-19 Tops 700

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota has topped 700. Sunday’s update from the state health department added another 104 new cases, bringing the total to 739 with 6 deaths.

89 of the new Sunday cases are in Minnehaha County, where more than half of the county’s 527 cases are employees at the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls.

The company had closed the plant for the weekend for sanitizing and to install barriers to help workers stay at least 6 feet apart from each other, but announced Sunday that it will remain closed until further notice.

Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken on Saturday called for the company to close for 2 weeks. Noem had earlier described Smithfield’s actions as “appropriate” even though workers and their families had protested a lack of action from Smithfield.

Smithfield CEO Kenneth Sullivan said in announcing the indefinite closing that it and other closures in the packing industry could have severe repercussions in the meat supply chain.