WICHITA, KAN. – After an unspecified number of workers at its Hazleton, Pa., processing plant tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), Cargill announced the facility would temporarily close effective April 7. A spokesman for the company said the employees are receiving appropriate medical care and that additional details about the employees could not be shared due to privacy laws. The case-ready pork and beef plant employs approximately 900 people.
Jon Nash, Cargill Protein’s North America Lead, said the plant would resume operations as soon as it is safe to do so and closing the Hazleton facility would minimize the impact of the virus while following guidelines from public health officials and protecting other employees.
“This was a difficult decision for our team, but our values are guiding our actions,” he said.
Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat confirmed on April 7 that 849 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the city and three deaths have resulted from the virus.
“We want our employees and the community to know we care,” Nash added. “We’ve taken extra steps to focus on safety and remain operational, including temporary wage increases, bonuses and waiving co-pays for COVID-19 testing. We also implemented additional safety measures like temperature testing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, prohibiting visitors, adopting social distancing practices where possible and offering staggered breaks and shift flexibility.”
Nash said the company’s other plants remain operational as Cargill adapts its business during the pandemic.
“Cargill provides an essential service to the world – providing the ingredients, feed and food that nourishes people and animals," Nash said. "We are working with farmers and ranchers, our customers and our employees to supply food in this time of crisis and keep markets moving.”