UPDATE, Nov. 9: There were at least a half-dozen employees reported infected with Covid-19 at Stampede Meat over a four-day period, which prompted state regulators to order the plant's closure for two weeks.
That's according to a letter from a New Mexico official to Stampede's management outlining the shutdown order last week. A copy of the letter was obtained by ABC-7 on Monday.
The letter strongly encouraged the meat-packing company to have all the plant's employees tested for virus exposure in the wake of the outbreak, which is the second known to have occured there during the pandemic.
ORIGINAL REPORT, Nov. 4: SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico — A meat processing plant in southern New Mexico has been ordered immediately closed for two weeks by state officials due to an outbreak of coronavirus at the facility.
The New Mexico Environment Department on Wednesday announced that Stampede Meat, at 5700 McNutt Road on Sunland Park/Santa Teresa border, was among three business that must shut down for 14 days as a result of at least four recent responses by state health teams to Covid-19 infections among employees.
The agency identified the other two targets of closure orders as Deming Manufactured Homes in Deming and Chaparral Materials in Santa Fe.
This is the second significant outbreak of Covid-19 at Stampede Meat during the pandemic, according to the state. In May, more than 50 cases of employee infections were identified during several rounds of state testing.
Illinois-based Stampede Meat opened the plant in the former Tyson Foods location in 2018. It began operations with 300 employees with plans to expand to a workforce of nearly 1,300 by 2024.
Around the time of the prior virus cases, the company said it had adopted more safety measures to limit spread.
Stampede said its processing facilities are cleaned and sanitized daily, with high-touch areas sanitized every half hour. Employees and visitors are screened and have their temperatures taken before entering. Employees also are instructed to wear layered protection including face masks, neck warmers and face shields.
ABC-7 has previously reported that the facility was the target of OSHA complaints by workers who expressed Covid-19 concerns weeks before the first confirmed case at the plant was announced.
(The Associated Press contributed background to this report.)