NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Sec. Mandy Cohen

May 7, 2020 briefing

17:00 – 20:13


“The food processing plants in our state are critical to our keeping up our food supply not only here in North Carolina but around the country, around the world. The president has already taken action to keep those food processing plants activated and we have done a lot of work to make sure that the workers in those plants are protected and that we are keeping those plants open. As you know this is an industry that is heavily regulated well before Covid-19; it’s regulated by the Department of Agriculture. They continue to be the regulatory body here. From the public health standpoint, we have been offering our assistance to make sure that these organizations are doing everything they can to protect their workers and to slow spread of the virus in their plants.

“So, we have been working to provide technical assistance on things like using a face coverings or mask, putting up barriers and/or doing other ways of deep cleaning and again good measures that will help prevent the spread of the virus.

“But these are plants that need to continue to run. It is not possible to always do the social distancing. How do we put in place the kind of things that are necessary so they can keep operating? That’s been our primary focus. We’ve also been working to make sure that their workers can get tested – either bringing testing on site or somewhere close by. The difference between plants, though, and some of our congregant facilities (assisted living) is, obviously, people come to the plant to work and they go back home to their communities where they live and obviously the virus can be transmitted in either place – they could pick it up at the plant but they can also pick it up in their community, so it is a different setting.

“These are also private business organizations, as you well know, so we are working closely to provide them, as we will to many businesses, will provide help and technical assistance to make sure they’re able to protect their workers, their customers and to follow our guidance as best as possible as we go forward. “

Briefing videos are available via UNC-TV under Latest Updates.  Scroll to May 7 to view the briefing. Secretary Cohen’s remarks on meat plants begin at the 17:00 mark.