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JBS turns down state's offer to assist with coronavirus testing

JBS Meat Plant
Posted at 6:11 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 01:39:52-04

TOLLESON, AZ — The company behind a Tolleson meatpacking plant passed up the state's offer this week to help with additional resources, including COVID-19 testing, in lieu of another option, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

For weeks, workers and the union that represents them have called for more resources and access to COVID-19 tests, as meatpacking plants around the country have been hit hard with coronavirus outbreaks.

On Friday, the Arizona Department of Health Services told ABC15 JBS indicated they had an alternate plan when ADHS discussed the situation with them on Monday, including what resources the state agency could provide, such as coordinating testing. ADHS told ABC15 JBS expressed confidence they could get all of their employees tested through a partnership with the City of Tolleson this week.

The City of Tolleson wrapped up a two-day testing event on Friday. Mayor Anna Tovar told ABC15 it was open to essential workers and would net around 220 tests.

ABC15 has previously been told roughly 1,500 people work at the Tolleson plant. By that math, everyone couldn't possibly get tested.

A JBS USA representative sent ABC15 the following statement:

"Many of our Tolleson team members have already been tested and we are working with the city of Tolleson on further testing. We will determine if further testing is warranted once this phase is complete. The Arizona Department of Health Services have been extremely helpful and we appreciate their partnership."

The Arizona Department of Health Services told ABC15 they plan to follow-up with JBS next week and their offer still stands for any assistance they may need going forward.

Meanwhile, Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar announced Friday she has secured additional testing opportunities for Tolleson residents. Mayor Tovar told ABC15 the testing will take place at the Tolleson Fire Department June 4-6. The expectation is the three-day event could net more than 300 tests. Exact times for the testing are still in the works.