MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jennie-O Turkey Store announced it will be temporarily pausing operations at both of its facilities in Willmar, Minnesota due to COVID-19 concerns.

The decision to pause operations at the Willmar Avenue and Benson Avenue facility comes days after some employees at the plant tested positive for the virus. The company says 14 employees out of more than 1,200 tested positive for COVID-19.

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“Based on information about the community spread of COVID-19 in the area, the company decided it was the right decision to pause operations to undergo a facility-wide cleaning that will enhance already robust safety and sanitization protocols,” Jennie-O said in a statement.

The company says under its pay program all of its employees will continue to receive 100% of their base pay and benefits during the pause in production.

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“The health, well-being and safety of our team members is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to take a pause in operations,” said Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store. “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.”

Two Minnesota pork processing plants — JBS in Worthington and Comfrey Farms in Windom — have both temporarily closed due to the outbreak. At least 33 workers at JBS have tested positive, while Comfrey officials have closed down their plant as a preventative measure.

Operations at the Jennie-O facilities will wind down throughout the weekend. Jennie-O Turkey Store is owned by Hormel Foods.

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