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'A lot of pressure to produce': Dallas meat packaging employees say they had to keep working despite coronavirus outbreak

Employees for Quality Sausage in Dallas have tested positive for COVID-19. Some family members say the company forced employees to keep working despite the outbreak.
Credit: Jay Wallis

DALLAS — A Dallas meat packaging company kept employees working and tried to speed up production after some workers fell ill with the coronavirus, local activists said Tuesday. 

Two employees at the Quality Sausage plant in West Dallas have died after testing positive for COVID-19, said Carlos Quintanilla of Accion America at a news conference Tuesday morning. 

He said the facility closed on April 24, a week after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

Quintanilla said of the 500 employees at this plant, 52 have currently said they have tested positive for COVID-19 with dozens more waiting on results. 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins confirmed there is an outbreak at a meat packaging facility. County health officials said they are investigating the spread of the disease at Quality Sausage. 

Quintanilla said "there was a lot of pressure to produce" at the packaging facility. 

"They kept on pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing their families to come to work," he said.

RELATED: Trump to sign order keeping meat processing plants open

Blanca Parra Gonzalez is the partner of Hugo Dominguez, who died after testing positive for COVID-19. She said the company kept making everyone come back into work despite people getting sick, including Dominguez.

"I think this is unfair," Gonzalez said. "I am angry at everything."

Quintanilla said the other worker who died was Mathias Martinez. Both men were in their 30s.

RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic forces Texas dairy farmers to dump thousands of gallons of milk

Quality Sausage released a statement Tuesday that says the company has closed its operations "so we can fully assess our response to the COVID-19 crisis, including completing testing of all employees."

The release says all employees will continue to be paid and the supply of the products will not be disrupted.

The release also says the company will have new safety guidelines which include checking the temperatures of team members upon arrival, requiring face coverings for employees and offering paid sick leave.

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