Publish date:

Amid more reported outbreaks at Minnesota meat plants, Walz heads to Worthington

Walz is visiting the home of the shuttered JBS USA pork plant, where there has been a major COVID-19 outbreak.

As the COVID-19 crisis escalates in Minnesota's meat processing plants, Gov. Tim Walz will join Reps. Collin Peterson and Jim Hagedorn on a visit to pandemic-hit Worthington on Wednesday.

Nobles County is home to Minnesota's worst per-capita coronavirus outbreak, which has been tied to the massive JBS USA pork processing plant, with the county now reporting 477 confirmed cases of the virus.

JBS USA temporarily closed the plant more than a week ago, joining multiple other plants across the country struggling with coronavirus outbreaks. However, its current status is up in the air after President Donald Trump on Tuesday invoked the Defense Production Act compelling meat plants to stay open, and limiting their liabilities if workers get sick.

Gov. Walz will be at the plant at 1 p.m. alongside 1st District Rep. Hagedorn, and 7th District Rep. Peterson. It comes as the plant prepares to be used as a site for euthanizing hogs, with Minnesota currently short of processing capacity by between 100,000 and 200,000 hogs a week.

Walz's Health Commissioner, Jan Malcolm, called the president's order "problematic" and "counterintuitive" given the extent of the problems in some of the nation's meatpacking and processing plants, with the Minnesota Department of Health in the process of carrying out widespread testing of meat plant employees in an attempt to get a handle on the spread.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Elsewhere in Minnesota, Jennie-O Turkey has shuttered two of its facilities in Willmar amid outbreaks there, and it's also been confirmed by MDH that there are ongoing outbreaks at another Jennie-O plant in Melrose, where there are 4 cases, and at Pilgrim's Pride in Cold Spring, where there are 17. Both of these plants are still operational.

The Pilgrim's Pride plant, which processes poultry, was the site of an employee walkout late Monday, with the St. Cloud Times reporting 100 workers walked out, though the company says the number was closer to 20.

The workers told the newspaper they are raising safety concerns about work at the plant, saying there is insufficient cleaning of bathrooms, no communication from management about positive COVID-19 cases, and that those with symptoms are either still working or coming back to work within a few days.

The company in response said it has taken "extensive measures" to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among workers, and that while it will "endeavor to keep our facilities open to help feed the nation ... we will not operate a facility if we do not believe it is safe."

Next Up

Mar'Keise Irving / Gopher Football

Gophers pound Maryland to stay in Big Ten West race

Four different players scored a rushing touchdown in a 34-16 victory over Maryland.

Father Paul Kubista at St. Mary of Czestochowa

Controversy after Delano priest shares vaccine misinformation in church bulletin

Father Paul Kubista is pastor at St. Mary of Czestochowa Catholic Church.


Mel-O-Glaze, DreamHaven Books robbed at gunpoint minutes apart

The businesses were hit by three robbers just six minutes apart on Oct. 21.

Cambridge house explosion

Explosion destroys house in Cambridge, 5 injured

The explosion occurred early Saturday morning on the 33000 block of Hillary Circle.


Charges: Lyft driver sexually assaulted woman in her home

The defendant is being held on a $100,000 bond.

Pixabay - black bear

Black bear bites professional baseball player in western Wisconsin

The former MSU-Mankato star was bitten in his back.

mickey moore driver's license shared

Beleaguered Ward 9 city council candidate loses Strib endorsement

Mickey Moore has faced questions in recent days about where he actually lives.

CDC biohazard scientist health work

New clue may explain how rare tropical disease sickened Minnesotan

The disease, known as melioidosis, killed 2 people earlier this year.

Sen Mark Koran crop

MN lawmaker encourages donations for locals charged in Jan. 6 insurrection

"They are a good family!" Sen. Mark Koran wrote Friday.


Money Gal Coaching: Mastering the spiritual parts of money

Kelly Blodgett used her passion behind becoming debt free to launch Money Gal Coaching.


JBS Pork

JBS pork plant in Worthington set to partially re-open this week

The plant has been shut down since a major coronavirus outbreak.

JBS Pork

JBS USA announces closure of coronavirus-hit Worthington plant

The pork processing plant has seen a growing number of cases.

JBS Pork

Coronavirus: Cases at Worthington pork plant continue to rise

Nobles County is becoming one of the Minnesota's major hotspots.

pigs chickens

Coronavirus: Expect higher prices, animals euthanized amid meat plant problems

Minnesota leaders say the closure of processing plants will have an impact on farms and consumers.

JBS Pork

Coronavirus outbreak at MN meat plant; spread possible from Smithfield Foods

The Worthington area has at least 30 cases, according to health officials.

Jennie-O Turkey

Union expresses safety concerns as Jennie-O plants reopen

Two Jennie-O facilities had closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks among workers.

JBS Pork

MN officials uneasy as president prepares order to keep meat plants open

The president is expected to issue an executive order requiring meat processing plants to stay open.

Governor Tim Walz

Coronavirus: Gov. Walz to announce plan to increase testing

The governor has been eager to ramp up the state's testing.