Hormel Foods in Austin, Minnesota makes safety adjustments in response to COVID-19

As pork production plants across Minnesota close due to COVID-19 concerns, Hormel Foods in Austin is still open. Officials said one of their employees tested positive for the coronavirus a few weeks ago, but that person has since recovered and is back at work. 

Hormel Foods Plant Manager Clint Walters said they have made changes to HR policies to encourage employees to stay home if they’re sick and will pay employees who do have to call in sick. 

“We all have plans to push through at this point. We think we can overcome small outbreaks [and] it won’t impact things," Walters said.

They’ve also changed schedules around so big groups of people aren’t coming into the building at one time or taking breaks at the same time. Employees are also wearing face masks/face shields and are using plexiglass barriers at work stations to keep employees protected. 

“There’s a lot of different interventions from people - movement, sanitation, creating barriers and social distance throughout the plant...that’s really been over the last 3 or 4 weeks. It’s been a very aggressive effort,” Walters said.

He said they’re doing what they can to manage their own supply chain to make sure they can still get all of the materials they need to make their products.

“We’re very proud of the food industry; we’re proud to be a part of the supply chain, and we feel the pressure and added stress to do everything we can to put food on the shelves for people but also to make sure the supply chain is moving as smoothly as possible for our farmers and grocery stores,” Walters said.

Walters said they do have plans in place to respond to an outbreak if they had one like other food production plants have seen.