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The Willmar, Minnesota facilities are the latest of many meat processers throughout the United States that have had to shut their doors for deep cleaning and employee self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jennie-O employees will continue to receive their base pay and benefits while the facilities are cleaned under enhanced sanitation protocols, the company said. More than 1,200 people work at the facilities.
"The health, well-being and safety of our team members is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to take a pause in operations," Jennie-O Turkey Store President Steve Lykken said in a written statement. “We are being thoughtful and considering in our approach to this process.”
The company is working with local health officials and a company headed by a former FDA medical officer. It has also implemented health screenings and provided personal protective equipment for workers, according to Lykken.
"The health, well-being and safety of our team members is our top priority,” he said. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to take a pause in operations.”
The Jennie-O closure announcement came just a day after parent company Hormel Foods said it would pay a second cash bonus to production employees working during the pandemic. The company promised $7 million in bonuses for full- and part-time workers on top of another $4 million pledged earlier in the month.