G.I. Mayor Roger Steele, asking for Federal Assistance and U.S. Ag. Secretary Sonny Perdue to visit UPDATE
Grand Island keeps getting worse. The infection rate keeps rising.
There has been 1100 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 37 deaths in Central Nebraska alone.10 of those deaths were reported on Wednesday and a large number of those cases come from the JBS meat-packing plant.
On Thursday, April 30, Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele held his bi-weekly press conference addressing the current state of COVID-19 in the community.
Steele spoke about the stay open orders for meat packing plants which have been put into place by President Trump, “I’m sending a message correspondence to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. I want to know how the Federal Government will provide testing for workers at JBS. I want Secretary Perdue to come to Grand Island so I can explain to him the problems we have faced with government orders that have failed to protect the people of Grand Island. In light of the Presidents stay open order to JBS I believe Secretary Perdue should visit us as a courtesy,” said Steele.
JBS is doing there best to protect workers but Mayor Steele said its not enough. He says workers need to be tested constantly and currently they don't have the resources to do it.
"I suggested they need to do testing. There may be other things that the department of agriculture can do to help JBS. Ultimately we want JBS to succeed and we want the workers at JBS to be safe," said Mayor Steele.
He wants more than just on and off again testing in Grand Island and thinks there should be dedicated testers at JBS.
Steele said, "If you're going to order a meat processing plant to remain open 24 hours a day then you should have dedicated testers assigned to that plant rather than have testers once and awhile in our city."
Local4 tried to get a comment on camera from Secretary Perdue but a spokesperson said he wouldn't be available until Monday. The USDA did give us a statement:
"President Trump issued and executive order declaring that meat and poultry processors meet newly established criteria under the Defense production Act. Under the order, the Department of Agriculture is directed to ensure America's meat and poultry processors are able to continue to operate uninterrupted to the maximum extent possible. USDA is directing meat and poultry processing plants to operate in accordance with the CDC/OSHA Guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers to facilitate ongoing operations, while mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19. Accordingly, establishments will provide written documentation of mitigation plans for review by the USDA, DOL and CDC. The USDA-led federal leadership team will swiftly review documentation provided and work in consultation with the state and local authorities to resume and/or ensure continuity of operations at these facilities." said USDA Spokesperson.
Steele is also asking all businesses in town to put up city posters in their windows and on their doors, which as people to wear face masks and stay 6 feet apart, "We have posters reminding people to wear a face mask, to stay 6 ft away from each other and to send just one family member into a store. If you’re a business and need posters call Sue at City Hall. We will make sure you receive the poster for your business,” he said.
COVID-19 testing is being done Thursday, April 30 at Fonner Park for all people in the district who wish to get tested.