Coronavirus cases confirmed at Jennie-O plant in Willmar

Jennie-O has confirmed the cases at the turkey plant in central Minnesota.
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Jennie-O says that employees at its plant in Willmar have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The food giant, owned by Hormel Foods, confirmed it has had more than one positive case at its turkey processing plant on Willmar Avenue in the central Minnesota city, though hasn't confirmed an exact number.

It comes just days after an outbreak was confirmed at the JBS USA pork processing plant in Worthington, Minnesota, which has spread to the extent that the plant will close on Wednesday.

Jennie-O says that it has implemented measures to contain the spread in Willmar, including quarantining affected staff and "ensuring all close contacts are identified and also quarantined."

All employees impacted by the outbreak will receive 100 percent pay and benefits.

"We can confirm that we have had employees who have tested positive for coronavirus at our Willmar Avenue Plant," a Jennie-O spokesperson told BMTN.

"Our production facilities continue to operate with minimal disruption to our supply chain," they added. "The company’s team of inspired people is working to ensure a consistent and steady food supply during this crisis."

"We will also be transparent and report any possible closures of facilities due to deep cleaning or staffing issues that may be caused by COVID-19. We are not reporting individual cases as we have found that the situations in our communities are changing daily."

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Governor Tim Walz has expressed a desire to keep the state's meatpacking plants open during the pandemic, given they are a major part of the food supply chain.

Nonetheless there are increasing instances of processing plants becoming impacted by COVID-19, with the Smithfield Foods plant in South Dakota closed because of an outbreak, and facilities in Iowa and Kansas also suffering outbreaks.

Jennie-O is based in Willmar, and has other processing facilities in Faribault, Pelican Rapids, and Melrose in Minnesota, and Barron County in Wisconsin.

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