Over the past few weeks more and more processing facilities have announced closure of plants due to the coronavirus. Today, JBS USA announced the indefinite closure of the Worthington, Minnesota, pork production facility. 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.”
The Worthington pork facility will wind down operations over the next two days with a diminished staff to ensure existing product in the facility can be used to support the food supply. In partnership with the state of Minnesota and Nobles County, the company will advise its Worthington employees to follow Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s stay at home order until returning to work. The company will continue to pay its team members during the plant closure.
“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.”
To protect the health and safety of its workforce, the company focuses on keeping the virus out of its facilities. This can be more challenging in communities where the virus has taken hold. When COVID-19 is prevalent in the community, fear is heightened, absenteeism rises and the challenge of keeping the virus out becomes greater. When absenteeism levels become too high, facilities cannot safely operate.
The Worthington pork production facility is the third JBS USA plant to temporarily close, joining the Souderton, Pennsylvania, beef production facility, which reopened today, April 20, and the Greeley beef production facility, which remains closed.