MELROSE, MINN. – Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc., a business unit of Hormel Foods Corp., has temporarily closed its turkey processing plant in Melrose, Minn., due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the local community. The company closed two other Jennie-O plants in Willmar, Minn., on April 23 for the same reason.

As of April 28, 19 employees out of the 750 that work at the plant had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our No. 1 priority is the health, well-being and safety of our team members,” said Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store. “That is why, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to take a pause in operations at this location.”

The company said it is working with local and state health officials to develop a process for testing its employees at the plant for COVID-19. In addition, management is working to raise awareness and educate employees about COVID-19 and how it may spread.

“We will continue to work with these outside experts as we develop our plan for reopening when the time is appropriate,” Mr. Lykken said. “During this pause, we will continue our robust food processing sanitation practices, as well as the enhanced procedures that we have been using since the emergence of COVID-19. The facility will be deep cleaned, including all common areas and high-touch surfaces. Lastly, we have implemented wellness screenings, provided masks and additional personal protective equipment and enhanced safety and sanitation protocols throughout our facilities."