Latino leader in Cache County helps those affected by JBS outbreak, is working with Union for solutions

Coronavirus Updates

CACHE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – There were 13 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, July 6 according to the Bear River Health Department which covers Cache, Rich, and Box Elder Counties. This brings the total to 1,724. Of those cases, 1,540 are from Cache County.

The majority of those affected have been Latinos and employees at the meatpacking plant, JBS in Hyrum.

One Latino community leader is working out of her home in Smithfield to provide resources for the Latinos affected by the JBS outbreak in Hyrum.

Lizette Villegas is a Latino leader in Cache County. She’s helped over 400 families in the area who have been affected by the recent COVID-19 spike.

“My goal within JBS is for me to inform the community on how they can protect themselves,” said Villegas.

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Villegas led the peaceful protests for employees at JBS after the outbreak that infected more than 300 employees. She says those who have “recovered” went back to work as soon as they could, to support their families.

“They have to go back because their pay per day was 50 dollars a day, so they got a paycheck for a week, for 350 dollars,” she said.

She’s working with local non-profits to educate Latinos about COVID-19 and bring food and supplies directly to homes in need. Villegas says the reason Latinos have been hit the hardest, is because they do not have the luxury of working from home.

“We don’t have the opportunity to go out and build a house through zoom, kill a cow through zoom, or pick raspberries and tomatoes through zoom, we have to go out and work,” said Villegas.

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Another issue she says, is the co-habitation that goes on within the community.

“We have grandma, grandpa, uncle all living at home, and so it spreads so much faster,” she added.

She and other leaders in Cache County started World Refugee Celebration Day, bringing COVID-19 information, supplies and food, to Latinos in a simple way with Spanish speakers. She also started a Facebook page, La Pulguita De Logan to keep the community informed.

“We’re just trying to do everything so they stay home, stay safe, we’ve even built busy kits for the kids, to let their parents rest, because they’ve been sick,” said Villegas.

She says while JBS employees tried to get the plant to close down for a deep clean, it hasn’t. She says many workers are scared.

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“Uncertainty of coming back when they’re sick, being scared, the pay, they don’t want to get laid off,” she says.

She and employees at JBS are working with the Union to get assistance. We have reached out to JBS corporate’s office, but they have not responded.

Villegas is asking for monetary donations as well as donations for diapers and food.

For monetary donations through Venmo: Janis-Boettinger with note, “Feed our friends” or a check can be written to: Janis Boettinger, 525 E. 300 N. Logan, UT, 84321.

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