Home News COVID-19 Situation USA Beef owner reports end of COVID-19 outbreak at plant

USA Beef owner reports end of COVID-19 outbreak at plant

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The owner of USA Beef Packing says its Cedarvale Road plant is functioning at about 85% to 90% capacity now. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The owner of a local meat processing company has said that the plant is operating near full capacity again after all employees have recovered from a COVID-19 outbreak.

Jose Madrid, owner of USA Beef Packing LLC, said Monday that all employees who previously had tested positive for the coronavirus have tested negative now.

“Everybody that had gotten positive and got sick is 100% well, and everything is good,” he said. “So basically we all got through it, and we are all back up and going.”

The first report to the state that USA Beef employees had tested positive occurred about July 27, according to records of the Rapid Response team of the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau of the New Mexico Environment Department.

That’s when the facility was closed. The state eventually was told of a total of 27 employees who had been confirmed to have COVID-19, according to Public Information Officer Maddy Hayden with the Environment Department.

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“USA Beef agreed to quarantine and test all production employees for a period of 14 days following their exposure to a positive case,” she said. “Any employee testing negative or not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms may return to work following expiration of the 14-day quarantine period.”

Madrid said that the slaughter and processing plant on Cedarvale Road should be operating at full capacity in the next few weeks.

“We actually never shut down,” he said. “We slowed it down to a 10% to 15% capacity. We are now back up to 85% to 90%. We will probably be back up to 100% in the next two weeks.”

Hayden said that the company cooperated with the Environment Department during its rapid response process.

“The company provided NMED with certification that affected employees were quarantined, testing would be conducted as directed by the Department of Health, the facility was disinfected and COVID-Safe Practices were in place, thereby meeting the requirements to safely resume operations,” she said.

She added that state officials would follow up if additional workers test positive or if there is any indication of additional risk to employees.

USA Beef has been operating in the county since August 2017 as a slaughter, processing and packaging operation approved and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It handles 100 to 300 head of beef and bison a day at its plant. It also recently acquired a building in the 1600 block of South Main Street, which it intends to use only for processing and packaging of meat.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.