TOLLESON, AZ — President Trump said they couldn't shut down, calling them essential to American life. Meanwhile, countless JBS Meat plant employees in Tolleson have been struck by coronavirus.
Many told ABC15 they feel left in the dark by the company they work for and wonder why there wasn't more focus on testing at the plant.
It took weeks to make it happen, but the city of Tolleson is finally hosting a local testing blitz over the next two days. Local traffic was closed off as nasal swabs for the coronavirus were being taken a the Tolleson Fire Station Thursday.
"Testing will be happening today and tomorrow," said Mayor Anna Tovar.
For weeks, Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar has been fighting for local testing in her city, especially for those that work inside the JBS meat packing plant.
"I would say my first communication with the governor's staff was over three weeks ago asking for this very testing that we're doing today," said Tovar whose been on the front lines in protecting her city for months.
More than two-hundred essential workers in Tolleson are expected to be tested over two days.
But many workers inside the JBS plant feel it took too long.
Since mid March, ABC15 has received dozens of emails from JBS employees that are worried about their health and the health of their families.
Voicemails telling us more cases were popping up nearly every single day.
The total of which JBS has yet to release.
"There's still fear, there's still fear," said United Food and Commercial Workers Rep Martin Hernandez.
Hernandez says that lack of transparency is unacceptable, calling on the company to report them just as they report workplace injuries.
But Hernandez adds the blame doesn't only fall on JBS.
"Blame the company but also blame the state, cause the state has a lot to do with it, if the state is not putting pressure on these companies to be transparent to let us know, it's a safety concern for all of us, inside the plant and outside," said Hernandez.
He says this week's testing is a step in the right direction but says more needs to be done.
Like making sure employees inside the plant are properly spaced apart and provided access to antibody testing.
"Making sure that there's testing available at the plant that would be super important for our membership and for the community," said Hernandez.
We also asked Mayor Tovar if JBS employees deserve to know how many people have tested positive.
"I think that an answer for JBS to answer," said Tovar.
But at this point, they won't, and what it takes to get it from them is anyone's guess.