Employees at Rose Packing, a Chicago meat packing operation, are calling for the facility to be shut down for sanitizing after 21 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. They are also asking for more equipment to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

The company has confirmed 21 cases of COVID-19 among its employees. Employees, however, claim told media that the numbers are much higher.

“People notice that there are employees missing, you know?” said a family spokesman for two Rose employees, according to ABC-7 News. They are both quarantined after contracting COVID-19. The spokesman said that employees have not been given face masks.

Rose Packing issued a statement that reads, in part: “Despite the many precautionary measures that we have taken in recent weeks, we have been informed that 30 of the more than 500 team members at our Major Avenue facility in Chicago have tested positive for COVID-19. All of these team members are now under self-quarantine at home or are under medical care.

“We first initiated our COVID-19 response plan on March 12, 2020. Upon learning of team members testing positive, we immediately activated our COVID-19 investigation plan, which aligns with the CDC and IDPH guidelines. Out of an abundance of caution, and in conformance with those guidelines, we identified other team members who may have been in close contact with those team members, so that we could inform them, and then determine their work status under the most current CDC guidelines.

“To provide us the opportunity to implement additional COVID-19 prevention activities, we suspended production operations at the plant after the second shift on Friday evening, April 17, 2020, and we will not reopen until we have temperature monitoring in place for all team members. We will also institute a brief exposure history questionnaire to everyone who enters the plant. We believe these measures will provide meaningful and additional levels of protection for each and every team member. We ordered and paid for the necessary temperature-monitoring devices several weeks ago, and we anticipate their delivery in the very near future. We will take this opportunity to conduct an even deeper cleaning of all areas of the Major Avenue facility with application of EPA registered sanitizers that are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.”

The company also stated that it has staggered break times to enhance social distancing, issued face coverings or face shields to employees, installed additional hand sanitizing stations and developed a COVID-19 paid leave program.

For more information: https://abc7chicago.com/rose-packing-meat-packaging-plant-outbreak-coronavirus-food/6114075/

Elsewhere in Illinois, the Ogle County Department of Health has closed the Hormel Foods plant in Rochelle, Ill., after an outbreak of COVID-19 among the plant’s employees. Health officials say there have been about 24 cases linked to the plant.

According to ABD-7, the Health Department made several attempts to assist in the control of the outbreak, making recommendations for additional testing and a two-week voluntary closure. Health Department Administrator Kyle Auman said that those efforts were unsuccessful.

"Although many essential businesses are open and operating, we will not tolerate them risking the health and safety of their employees or our community during this pandemic or any other time," Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows said in a statement.

For more information: https://abc7chicago.com/business/rochelle-food-plant-shut-down-after-covid-19-outbreak/6113103/

Source: ABC News 7