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JBS facility to temporarily close in Green Bay

JBS beef facility in Green Bay. (WBAY Photo)
JBS beef facility in Green Bay. (WBAY Photo)(WBAY)
Published: Apr. 26, 2020 at 1:34 PM CDT
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Company officials with JBS USA say they will temporarily close the Green Bay, Wisconsin beef production facility.

The company announced the voluntary temporary closure on Sunday,

it wouldn't operate a plant if it didn't think it was safe or if there weren't enough workers to operate safely. The company told us on Thursday the Green Bay plant was operating at a reduced production capacity.

JBS' full statement from Thursday:

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 remains our number one priority. The Green Bay facility is open and operational, though production capacity has been reduced.

Company officials say they have adopted multiple safety measures at its facilities to prevent the coronavirus from entering its workplaces and support team members, including the following:

-Temperature testing all team members before entering facilities, including the use of hands-free thermometers and thermal imaging testing technology

-Providing extra personal protective equipment, which are required to be worn at all times

-Promoting physical distancing by staggering starts, shifts and breaks, and increasing spacing in cafeterias, break and locker rooms, including plexiglass dividers

-Increasing sanitation and disinfection efforts, including whole facility deep-cleaning every day

-Hiring staff dedicated to continuously clean facilities, including common areas

-Removing vulnerable populations from facilities, offering full pay and benefits

Requiring sick team members to stay home from work

-Waiving short-term disability waiting periods

-Relaxing attendance policies so people don't come to work sick

-Providing free 100% preventative care to all team members enrolled in the company's health plan

-Offering free LiveHealth Online services for team members enrolled in the company's health plan that allow for virtual doctor visits at no cost

-Educating and encouraging team members to practice social distancing at home and in the community outside of work

-Restricting access to facilities and not allowing visitors

WBAY has reached out to company officials to confirm a start date of the temporary closure.

On Sunday, Shannon Grassl, President of JBS USA Regional Beef, stated in a release they believe a temporary closure is the most aggressive action they can take to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

According to JBS, the Green Bay facility employs more than 1,200 people, and is the fourth JBS USA plant to temporarily close in order to help slow community spread of the coronavirus.

Other JBS facilities which temporarily closed include the Souderton, Pennsylvania beef production facility and the Greeley, Colorado beef production facility.

Both of those facilities have reopened, however a Worthington, Minnesota pork facility is still closed.

RELATED:

JBS has been linked to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Brown County, and as of Friday afternoon, 189 cases of the total amount of confirmed cases in Brown County were linked to JBS.

The Brown County Health Department said

that the JBS beef plant has the biggest cluster of cases in the area, and was the first time the county had identified the location of an outbreak. Public Information Officer Ted Shove said the rate of new cases and proximity of people were working together made it necessary to get information to the public regarding site-specific location.

Another 23 cases are linked to Salm Partners in Denmark, while American Foods Group reported 75 cases.

Those numbers include employees of the plants, as well as their immediate family members.

RELATED:

The numbers released Sunday by the DHS show the county has a total of 776 confirmed COVID-19 cases, an increase from Saturday's report of 720 confirmed cases.

RELATED:

According to JBS, company officials say after consulting the Wisconsin DHS and the Brown County Health and Human Services Department - Public Health Division, the company is advising its Green Bay team members to follow Governor Evers' 'Safer at Home Order' while the plant is closed.

Signs and Symptoms

Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with those conditions should take the proper precautions.

COVID-19 is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

"The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick," says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

for more information on symptoms. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear between two and 14 days after contact with an infected person.

VISIT

for complete local, national and international coverage of the outbreak.

DHS recommends taking these steps to help stop the spread of the virus:

--Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water.

--Covering coughs and sneezes.

--Avoiding touching your face.

--Staying home when sick.

everyone in the United States avoid large events and mass gatherings for at least eight weeks.

The virus originated in Wuhan, China. The spread started in December 2019.

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