GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4)– There is a delay in coronavirus testing for all employees at the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley. Two workers have died from COVID-19 and at least 30 others have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The plan was to test all 6,000 employees, but that has been postponed. Testing scheduled for Monday and Tuesday appears canceled too, though a CBS4 crew could see that tents and trailers are set up in the employee parking lot.
On Sunday afternoon, some JBS employees received a text reading:
Urgent notice to all JBS Greeley Beef employees.
All Covid 19 testing has been canceled until further notice. We will share updates with you shortly.
“There was cancellations, nobody knows for certain where to go, how to do it,” said one employee who asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing his job for speaking out. “Everybody is in the dark.”
That employee, who has worked for the company for several years, described the confusion about testing among his peers as another example of the company’s failure to act quickly and transparently during a pandemic. He acknowledged some of the safety measures put in place by the company last week, but called them “a month too late.”
“We just want to feel safe and protected, that we’re going to go home at the end of the day and not to the hospital,” he said.
The outbreak at the processing plant has required state officials, and even The White House, to weigh in on the concerns raised by staff. However, more than 6,000 other employees have continued to work.
On Friday, the company announced it would partner with the White House and the state of Colorado to deep clean the facility, do more to promote social distancing and secure employee testing. Until the cancellations, those tests were scheduled to happen Sunday through Tuesday — the day JBS is set to reopen.
“From my understanding, it takes two to five days to get results,” said the employee who wishes to remain anonymous. “If everybody is going to get tested on Monday and Tuesday, how are we supposed to start work on Tuesday?”
Still, not all employees are raising alarms. Dustin Hibbs is, for the most part, content with what’s been done at the plant.
“They’re putting dividers inside the cafeteria, they put spacers in between the work stations, they’re doing the best they can with the contamination, said Hibbs, an employee at the plant.
For Hibbs, job security and keeping the plant open are a bigger concern right now than the coronavirus.
“I’ve still got to pay my rent, I’ve got to pay child support, I have my bills I’ve got to pay, and if I lose my job, how am I going to get income to live?” He said.
CBS4 reached out to JBS multiple times on Sunday to learn why testing was canceled and when it will now occur, but the company did not respond.