Skip to main content

JBS USA announces indefinite closure of coronavirus-hit Worthington plant

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

JBS USA has announced the "indefinite closure" of its pork processing plant in Worthington, Minnesota, following a COVID-19 outbreak.

The number of confirmed cases at the facility has been rising quickly this past week, and continued over the weekend, prompting the announcement that operations will wind down over the next two days.

The facility employs more than 2,000 people in Nobles County and processes 20,000 hogs per day.

“We don’t make this decision lightly,” said Bob Krebs, President of JBS USA Pork. “We recognize JBS Worthington is critical to local hog producers, the U.S. food supply and the many businesses that support the facility each and every day."

It comes just days after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he had sent a Minnesota Department of Health team to the facility to limit the spread of the virus, and said that the facility would be staying open.

He cited a similar outbreak at Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, which has been linked to the Worthington outbreak as there is an overlap in workers and families who work at both facilities, and said the situation was different at the Minnesota plant.

"Smithfield went from nothing to shut down overnight. That's not case here," Walz said. "We have spoken, put a team down there to set up testing and ensure safe conditions across community."

The outbreak at JBS means that Nobles County is now the county with the most cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota on a per capita basis, outstripping Martin County which saw dozens of cases early on in the pandemic.

Having only had 2 cases confirmed by the MDH a week ago, the county now has 76 as of 4 p.m. Sunday.

JBS USA has said it will continue to pay its employees during the plant's closure, but nonetheless the closure of Minnesota's largest pork production facility is a blow for the state's food supply chain.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

The Minnesota Department of Health told BMTN over the weekend it had received 20 positive COVID-19 tests from JBS employees, though that number is expected to have since risen.

"As we all learn more about coronavirus, it is clear that the disease is far more widespread across the U.S. and in our county than official estimates indicate based on limited testing," Krebs said.

"We have taken aggressive actions to keep coronavirus out of our plant and keep this critical infrastructure facility operational. It is our hope that Governor Walz’s effort to implement more widespread community testing will help all of us better understand the measures we must all take to stop its potential spread. We must work together to defeat this common enemy."

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-29 at 1.54.31 PM

Missing: Minnesota man last seen in Sioux Falls area

Aaron Pearson, 41, was reported missing on Thursday.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Protest for Tyre Nichols to be held outside MN Governor’s Mansion

Activists groups say they’ll call on Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature to implement police reforms.


Minnesota pool contractor banned from industry, must pay $2 million-plus

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed suit against Charles Workman and his company, MN Crete Pools, LLC, in August.

Minneapolis police

St. Paul man identified as victim of north Minneapolis homicide

The shooting occurred on the 2200 block of Emerson Avenue North on Wednesday.


Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.


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

Coronavirus: Cases at Worthington pork plant continue to rise

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

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.

Governor Tim Walz

Amid more reported outbreaks at MN 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.

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 5.51.17 PM

Coronavirus cases confirmed at Jennie-O plant in Willmar

Jennie-O has confirmed the cases at the turkey plant in central Minnesota.

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.

JBS Pork

Union representing Worthington pork plant workers calls for renewed hazard pay

United Food and Commercial Workers Local Local 663 penned a public letter to JBS Thursday.

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.