Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on LinkedIn Share this on Sina Weibo Share this on Wechat Share this on LinkedIn Products of Smithfield, acquired by WH Group, the largest pork company in the world. Credit: REUTERS/Bobby Yip A few of Smithfield Foods' massive pork-processing plants turned into Covid-19 hotspots soon after the virus reached the United States. Employees at the plants typically work in conditions that make it easy for the virus to spread: close quarters, cool temperatures, and constant air circulation. Social distancing measures are hard to implement without slowing down operations. By mid-April, employees of Smithfield’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant accounted for half of its county’s reported coronavirus cases. Smithfield, owned by China’s WH Group, was initially reluctant to shut the plant, but gave in after pressure from the Sioux Falls mayor and South Dakota’s governor, who feared endangering workers and spreading the contagion. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” Smithfield Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Sullivan said in a company statement before the plant went dark. “The closure of this facility, comSubscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.