Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis released the following statement after the Board of Supervisors yesterday approved her read-in motion calling for the safety of workers at industrial facilities in the City of Vernon:
“Over 200 workers at nine industrial facilities in the City of Vernon, located in the Southeast region of Los Angeles County, have tested positive for COVID-19. The largest outbreak was reported at the Farmer John meatpacking plant owned by Smithfield Foods. This past week, there were additional cases reported to the City of Vernon’s Health and Environmental Control Department. Many of these companies either produce, package, or distribute a wide variety of foods, including coffee, tea, bread, and meats. Although these facilities are inspected and permitted by the Vernon Health and Environmental Control Department, the Department of Public Health (DPH) is providing these facilities strategies to prevent further spread of the virus and is following up on cases and contacts among workers.
“As we continue down our path to recovery, it is important that we protect the well-being and safety of our workers. Ensuring worker protections is key to successfully re-opening our economy. Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved my Board motion directing DPH to work with our labor partners, and with the City of Vernon’s Health and Environmental Control Department, in order to report back in seven days on: the meatpacking plant’s COVID-19 mitigation and implementation plans; current and impending support efforts that will be carried out by the plant’s operator to help workers, their families, and the surrounding Southeast Los Angeles communities, and a review of all manufacturing and food facilities protocols observed by DPH and the applicable city jurisdiction to ensure these protocols are sufficient to reduce outbreaks in these types of facilities.
“While confirmed cases of COVID-19 are reported throughout LA County, there are specific regions at higher risk. For example, in the City of Vernon very few people actually live there, but approximately 50,000 people work in more than 1,800 businesses located in Vernon. Many of these individuals live in the surrounding Southeast Los Angeles communities of South Gate, Huntington Park, and Bell, among others, where we have witnessed daily increases of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past couple of months. Several of these workers are Latinos, undocumented, older in age, and have underlying medical conditions, putting them at a greater risk of hospitalization if exposed to the virus. Telework and telecommuting are not options for these workers, and it is critical they are protected and safe at work. I will not stop until LA County responds to the needs of our communities.”
Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org