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State, Federal Officials react to Mayor Steele's call

On Thursday, Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele said he would be asking the U.S. Ag. Seceratry to visit the community.
On Thursday, Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele said he would be asking the U.S. Ag. Seceratry to visit the community.(KSNB)
Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 7:08 PM CDT
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On Thursday Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele held his bi-weekly press conference addressing the current state of COVID-19 in the community.

Steele spoke about the stay open orders for meat packing plants which have been put into place by President Trump, “I’m sending a message correspondence to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. I want to know how the Federal Government will provide testing for workers at JBS. I want Secretary Perdue to come to Grand Island so I can explain to him the problems we have faced with government orders that have failed to protect the people of Grand Island. In light of the Presidents stay open order to JBS I believe Secretary Perdue should visit us as a courtesy,” said Steele.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Congressman Adrian Smith strongly agreed with President Trump's executive orders.

"I appreciate President Trump making that executive order. Because it highlights how important our food processing industry is to the supply chain here in the United States, and making sure people have food on the grocery shelves at the store," said Ricketts.

Smith said it is also very important to keep the meat packing plants open for produce workers and restaurants, who are struggling during these difficult times.

Both Ricketts and Smith believe Grand Island and JBS need the federal government's help, and that they are going to continue to get it.

"I would certainly accept help from the federal government to be able to do more with regard to testing," said Ricketts. "In fact we are getting some resources from the federal government to be able to help do more of our contact tracing."

"This is a unique time, something we need to be mindful of. I know that there is more PPE that is being processed and developed and delivered," said Smith. "Testing will become more and more available all the time. For everyone, but especially the importance of the workers here. This is a crucial time and I think Mayor Steele's point is well made."

Both officials do agree with Steele that Secretary Perdue should make a visit to JBS.

"We would certainly accept more help. And with regard to Sonny Perdue here, we would certainly welcome Sonny Perdue to come here," said Ricketts.

"I think the more we can have federal officials visit Nebraska, the better off we are. A lot of the folks in key positions know what's happening, and they are well in tune with what needs to happen to keep our state safe," said Smith.

We asked both Governor Ricketts and Congressman Smith if they agreed with Mayor Steele, that the federal government was responsible for protecting the JBS plant workers, and neither one gave a clear answer.

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