JBS shuts down Minnesota pork plant hit by COVID-19 outbreak
by Steve Karnowski, The Associated Press
The Minnesota Department of Health reported over the weekend that 26 workers and five relatives of workers have tested positive for the coronavirus
MINNEAPOLIS — JBS USA said it is temporarily shutting down its big pork processing plant in southwestern Minnesota because of an outbreak of COVID-19 among workers, the latest closure of a major U.S. food processing plant due to the pandemic.
“We don’t make this decision lightly,” Bob Krebs, president of JBS USA Pork, said in a statement. “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.”
The Worthington plant employs more than 2,000 people and normally slaughters 20,000 hogs per day. JBS said the plant would wind down operations over the next two days with a reduced staff. The company, which just granted $4-per-hour raises for its U.S. meatpackers, will continue to pay workers during the indefinite closure, and is urging them to follow Minnesota’s stay-at-home order until they return to work.
The Minnesota Department of Health reported over the weekend that 26 workers and five relatives of workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. The department reported April 20 that 16 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Nobles County, which includes Worthington. Those cases raised the number of people infected in the rural county to 76.
JBS USA operates more than 60 facilities across the United States. The Worthington plant is the company’s third plant to temporarily close, joining a beef plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania, that closed for two weeks and reopened Monday, and a beef plant that remains closed in Greeley, Colorado.