MONMOUTH — Employees of Smithfield Foods will still be paid when the pork-processing plant suspends operations this week, but the temporary closure will cause additional financial strain on the city of Monmouth amid the coronavirus pandemic.


Mayor Rod Davies said the city is already suffering from lost revenue due to the stay at home order and restrictions on businesses, with 10 city employees receiving furlough notices last week.


The loss of revenue from water and sewer services the city sells to Smithfield means more cuts could be coming.


"We will have to be sitting down with our team on Monday to see what further belt-tightening we can do," Davies said.


The announcement Friday that Smithfield would suspend operations at the Monmouth plant came one week after the confirmation that three employees there tested positive for COVID-19. One of those cases is resident of Warren County, and two are residents of Rock Island County.


Since that initial confirmation of cases in the Monmouth plant, neither Smithfield nor public health officials have said whether new cases in Warren County and the surrounding areas are Smithfield employees or close contacts of employees.


In Warren County, confirmed cases have grown substantially as testing expanded for Smithfield employees and others showing symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing.


An additional seven cases were announced in Warren County on Saturday, bringing the total to 45. The county's first confirmed case was announced April 11.


The new cases include two females between the ages of 20 and 40, one female between the ages of 40 and 60, one female between the ages of 60 and 80, two males between the ages of 20 and 40, and one male between the ages of 40 and 60.


The cases in Warren County are from more than one source and include household transmission, according to the Warren County Health Department.


In other places where Smithfield plants are dealing with coronavirus outbreaks, the number of cases related to the plant have been made public. The Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a coronavirus hotspot, with 783 of its employees testing positive as of late last week.


With 3,400 employees, the Sioux Falls plant is twice the size of the Monmouth plant. The plant there suspended operations April 14, three weeks after the first worker tested positive.


Two additional Smithfield plants in Wisconsin and Missouri have temporarily ceased production due to supply chain issues.


On Thursday, a worker at Smithfield’s Milan, Missouri, plant filed a lawsuit against the company, stating the plant failed to provide protective equipment and discouraged sick leave, among other complaints.


On its website, Smithfield outlines precautions implemented at its plants, including hand sanitizing stations, barriers, symptom screening, thermal scanning for taking temperatures, enhanced cleaning, encouraging employees to stay home if sick, and paid leave for those quarantined.


In the release announcing the suspension of operations in Monmouth, the company noted the difficulty in practicing social distancing in meat processing plants.


Smithfield’s corporate office has not responded to requests from The Register-Mail for more detailed information on when precautions were implemented at the Monmouth plant, citing a high volume of requests for comment.


The Monmouth plant was operating this weekend and is expected to cease operation early this week. Workers there produce bacon and 3% of the U.S. fresh pork supply.


Employees were told they would be at home for at least two weeks.


Davies said that Smithfield paying employees during the shutdown will ease some economic worry.


"That will be a huge help to their families," Davies said.