GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – This sharp increase in coronavirus cases in Brown County has been linked to several meat processing plants in our area, according to Ted Shove, Environmental Health Manager with Brown County Health.
Brown County health officials announced a recent spike in coronavirus cases being linked to meat processing plants at JBS, Salm Partners and American Foods Group.
Shove said, “The clustered uptick or increase in cases that we’ve noticed has focused primarily in and around JBS in Green Bay with other companies within the industry showing some increases in confirmed cases.”
JBS issued the following response:
“JBS USA has had team members test positive for COVID-19 in some of our facilities. We are offering support to those team members and their families, and we hope they all make a full and speedy recovery. Out of respect for the families, we are not releasing further information.
The U.S. government has identified the food supply as a critical infrastructure industry and has stated we have a special responsibility to maintain normal work schedules on behalf of the nation. We take this responsibility seriously and are doing our best to safely provide food to the nation during a challenging time.
We will endeavor to keep our facilities open, but we will not operate a facility if we do not believe it is safe or if absenteeism levels result in our inability to safely operate. The health and safety of our team members remain our number one priority. We have implemented a wide of range of measures at our facilities to combat coronavirus.”
Some of these measures include staggering shifts and breaks and increasing spacing in the cafeterias, break, and locker rooms at their plant in Green Bay.
In addition, the company has implemented the following measures:
- Promoting physical distancing by staggering starts, shifts and breaks, and increasing spacing in cafeterias, break and locker rooms, including plexiglass dividers in key areas;
- Increasing sanitation and disinfection efforts, including whole facility deep-cleaning every day;
- Hiring dedicated staff whose only job is to continuously clean facilities, including common areas beyond the production floor;
- Removing vulnerable populations from facilities, offering full pay and benefits;
- Requiring sick team members to stay home from work.
JBS is not the only meat processing plant with confirmed cases.
Keith Lindsey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Salm Partners, released the following statement:
“Brown County Health officials have identified employees of Salm Partners as testing positive for COVID-19. Out of the 500 individuals employed at the plant’s Denmark facility, 10 full-time employees have been diagnosed with the coronavirus over the last three weeks.
None have been confirmed as contracting the virus while at work and these individuals have been on paid leave since they felt ill from symptoms. We have taken aggressive and immediate measures to protect our partners.”
The company’s main facility in Denmark has been updated to ensure for individual health and safety such as:
- A large tent outside the front entrance was installed to better regulate the flow of individuals into the plant within social distancing guidelines.
- One entrance is being used to ensure compliance for all partners, contractors, and essential visitors
- The company instituted a new process for entering/exiting to remove cross traffic
- There is increased cleaning in common areas, locker rooms, break rooms, and washrooms
- Instituted 6 feet social distancing in break rooms (1 chair and 1 individual per table
Brown County health officials say American Foods Group has less positive cases than JBS, but officials have not released exact numbers for either company.
The CDC is conducting contact tracing to determine the number of people that may have been infected.
Brown County health officials say they expect their numbers to go up after employees at all plants are tested.