WILLMAR, MINN. - Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. has temporarily halted operations at two of its Willmar, Minn.-based facilities after 14 out of 1,200 employees tested, received positive test results for coronavirus (COVID-19).

"The health, wellbeing and safety of our team members is our top priority," said Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods. "Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to take a pause in operations. 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." 

While the facilities are closed, they will undergo a facility-wide deep cleaning and employees will still receive 100% of their base pay and benefits. At company facilities that are still operating, Jennie-O has implemented wellness screenings, provided masks and additional personal protective equipment and enhanced cleaning and safety procedures. 

"Local public health is here to help support Jennie-O Turkey Store and its employees, just as we are for the entire Kandiyohi County community," said Jennie Lippert, health and human services director for Kandiyohi County. "The proactive measures which Jennie-O Turkey Store is taking will help mitigate the transmission rate within our county." 

The company is in the process of developing a plan for reopening when the time is appropriate.