April 18, 2020
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that yet another pork processing plant has been impacted by COVID-19.
During his daily COVID-19 briefing, Walz announced that the JBS plant in Worthington, Minn., has positive COVID-19 cases within the plant. According to the Worthington Globe, "the number of positive cases initially jumped Thursday night, when Nobles County's Public Information Officer Tom Johnson issued a press release stating they were notified of 16 new cases in the county by the Minnesota Department of Health."
Minnesota DOH Commissioner Jan Malcolm says that of the 30 cases in the Worthington area, seven of those "have been determined to be associated with JBS."
Friday afternoon, JBS issued the following statement:
JBS USA has had team members test positive for COVID-19 in some of our U.S. facilities. We are offering support to those team members and their families, and we hope they all make a full and speedy recovery. Out of respect for the families, we are not releasing further information.
As our community collectively faces this challenge, we must work together to defeat coronavirus. We have implemented enhanced safety measures in our facility, but we cannot fight this battle alone. We urge our local businesses and community members to wear masks when at work or in public, and follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus in our community.
Food is an essential need, and our team is working hard to keep food on local grocery store shelves at a time when many Americans are unemployed, out of work or sheltering in place. Every day, thousands of committed team members show up to the Worthington pork production facility to help our community and our nation face this crisis. We salute and thank them.
We have implemented several enhanced safety measures at our facilities, including:
Increasing sanitation and disinfection efforts, including whole facility deep cleaning every day
Promoting physical distancing by staggering starts, shifts and breaks, and increasing spacing in cafeterias, break and locker rooms, including plexiglass dividers in key areas
Dedicating staff to continuously clean facilities
Temperature testing all team members prior to entering our facilities, including the use of hands-free thermometers and thermal imaging testing technology in many locations
Providing extra personal protective equipment, including protective masks to all team members that are required to be worn at all times
Removing vulnerable populations from our facilities, offering full pay and benefits
Requiring sick team members to stay home from work
Waiving short-term disability waiting periods
Relaxing attendance policies so people don't come to work sick
Providing free 100% preventative care to all team members enrolled in our health plan
Offering free LiveHealth Online services for team members enrolled in our health plan that allow for virtual doctor visits at no cost
We are committed to playing our part in seeing our community and our nation through this challenging time.
Walz credited JBS management with being in close communication with the state Department of Health, and the plant remains open. Malcolm says "we are already mounting a very well-integrated response. Local public health is involved, local emergency management is involved, the plant managers are cooperating with us, the whole community is involved, because as the governor said, this is not only an anchor of the community economically, but we know that there is spread in the community now, and so this needs to be a community response."
According to the JBS website, there are more than 2,000 team members at the plant in Worthington, which has a population of about 13,000.
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