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JBS worker dies, his family says, of COVID-19

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Jose Andrade-Garcia, center, and members of his family are pictured in this image taken from the GoFundMe page started to help raise money for his funeral services.

On Friday Jose Andrade-Garcia died, and his family says it was from COVID-19. 

Garcia, 62, was a week away from retirement from JBS, a father of six children and grandfather to 11. His family is using a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral services. 

“Anyone who had the honor to meet him would agree to say he touched the lives of those who surrounded him with his humbleness and love,” the GoFundMe page states. “We are all devastated by his loss and were not prepared for the high cost of a funeral service and medical expenses. We want to give our dad the memorial he deserves, to honor his memory and say our last goodbyes.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health has not added any additional deaths to Marshall County.

Joe Henry, president of LULAC’s Council 307 in Des Moines, has spoken out about Garcia’s death. 

“We are very saddened by what happened to him,” Henry said. “This is another reason why we need mandatory testing at every meat packing facility.” 

LULAC filed an Iowa Workforce Development OSHA complaint in April. The JBS complaint states that unsafe working conditions at the plant in Marshalltown exist in cutting, processing, break and dressing rooms. The complaint further states JBS employs 2,400 people in Marshalltown “who work shoulder to shoulder in most of the meat cutting and processing department rooms at the facility.”

The LULAC’s complaint cites meatpacking plants across Iowa and was sent to OSHA after a worker at the JBS facility in Ottumwa tested positive for COVID-19 and another employee was in self-isolation.

In April, 34 employees at the JBS process plant tested positive for COVID-19. Since then there has not been any more communication from JBS on reported cases in the plant.

“They said on April 1 that they were doing enough,” Henry said. “Here we find out that Jose had been ill for the last month.”

Henry doesn’t believe that JBS has done enough to keep its workers safe.

“Clearly there should be full paid sick leave for workers who are feeling ill,” he said. 

According to his family Garcia’s last wish was to go back to his hometown in Mexico and take care of his mother. His family is trying to lay him to rest in Mexico. 

As of Monday his family has raised $8,362 from 180 donors toward Garcia’s funeral. The page can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/kxwva-funeral-amp-medical-expenses?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=m_pd+share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR09H__1NF8XuHw-okGr9hx74YZqKDFxgGz4k_WoukrWVroZhk0y6IzjJAc.

“Only a week away from retirement he became incredibly ill and was fighting for his life for a whole month until he couldn’t any longer,” according to the GoFundMe page. 

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Contact Thomas Nelson at tnelson@timesrepublican.com

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