WILLMAR, Minn. — Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc. announced that it will be temporarily closing two facilities in Willmar after 14 employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The company said that it will "temporarily pause operations" at its Willmar Avenue and its Benson Avenue facilities, according to a news release.
The Willmar turkey plants are the latest meat processing facilities in the U.S. that have had to temporarily close or slow down production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jennie-O said all employees will continue to "receive 100 percent of their base pay and benefits during the pause in production, according to the news release.
More than 1,200 people work at the two turkey plants.
The two facilities.will undergo a deep cleaning during the temporary closure.
"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," said Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store in the news release. "We are being thoughtful and considerate in our approach to this process. I want to recognize our production professionals for continuing to do an outstanding job as they work to keep food on tables during this unprecedented time. I am very proud of them and I look forward to being back together as soon as we are able."
Also according to the news release, "operations will wind down throughout the weekend."
The company is also encouraging staff to get tested for COVID-19.
"Health experts have told the company that as testing increases so will positive results. The company has strategic operation protocols and plans to ensure business continuity, including the use of its other facilities to continue to serve its customers during this time," according to the news release.