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Jennie-O pausing operations at Melrose facility

Jennie-O Turkey Store pauses product at Melrose turkey processing plant due to community spread of COVID-19.

Three Jennie-O Turkey Store processing plants in Minnesota have now been closed in the past week due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The company closed its Melrose plant temporarily Tuesday due to community spread of COVID-19, according to company news release. As of Monday, 19 of 750 employees at the Melrose plant had tested positive for COVID-19. The business previously confirmed employees have tested positive for the disease at its plants in Willmar. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — Jennie-O Turkey Store is pausing operations at its Melrose facility in response to the community spread of COVID-19 in the area, according to a statement from Jennie-O.

"Our number one priority is the health, well-being and safety of our team members. That is why, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to take a pause in operations at this location," Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, said in the statement.

The closure of the Melrose facility follows the closure of two facilities in Willmar after 14 employees, as of April 23, had tested positive for COVID-19 among the more than 1,200 employees. there. The closure of the Willmar plants was announced last week, and operations were winding down over the weekend.

Under its pay program, all Jennie-O Turkey Store team members will continue to receive 100 percent of their base pay and benefits during the pause in production, according to the statement.

Operations at the Melrose facility were winding down through Tuesday evening.


The company is currently working with local and state health leaders on testing for its team members. In addition, the company has worked with experts at the Mayo Clinic and other health institutions on awareness and education for all Jennie-O team members.

As of Monday, 19 employees out of approximately 750 at the Melrose plant had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the statement.

"We will continue to work with these outside experts as we develop our plan for reopening when the time is appropriate. 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," Lykken added. "Lastly, we have implemented wellness screenings, provided masks and additional personal protective equipment and enhanced safety and sanitation protocols throughout our facilities."

Jennie-O Turkey Store is comprised of 12 lay farms, three hatcheries, more than 100 commercial growing farms, eight feed mills and seven processing plants across Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to an online company profile , and employs more than 7,000 in total. Two processing plants are located in Willmar. Others are in Faribault, Melrose, Montevideo and Pelican Rapids in Minnesota and one in Barron, Wisconsin.

Jennie-O Turkey Store is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation , based in Austin, Minn.

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Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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