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ROCHELLE — Hormel’s Rochelle Foods plant will reopen as planned Monday following a 14-day closure spurred by a COVID-19 outbreak.
Last week, the plant tested all of its more than 800 employees with the help of the Ogle County Health Department, Rochelle Community Hospital and KSB Hospital in Dixon.
“Of those who tested positive, numerous people had no noticeable symptoms,” plant officials said in a news release Friday evening.
Two dozen cases were linked to the facility when it was ordered closed on April 17; information on how many tested positive was not provided by press time.
Ogle County has 128 COVID-19 cases as of today; health officials have said many are linked to the plant, but have not released an exact number.
“During the pause in operations, additional enhanced safety procedures were implemented, including deep cleaning of high-touch areas, reconfiguration of common areas and workstations, revised shift scheduling, new guidelines on carpooling and more extensive social distancing measures,” the news release said.
Rochelle Foods' reopen plan exceeds CDC and OSHA guidelines and outlines procedures for continued employee safety, including temperature screening, masks and personal protective equipment, social distancing and continued COVID-19 education, it said.
"We have been a proud member of Ogle County and Rochelle for decades, and we know that this current COVID-19 pandemic has been a very difficult situation for our team members, their families, our friends and neighbors, our community and our nation,” plant manager Bill Rice said in the release.
“We want to thank the community for the outpouring of support as we navigate this pandemic's impact and those who helped us execute our pilot testing program.”
This week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to mandate that meat processing plants stay open.
Rochelle Foods produces a variety of products for food service and retail customers and consumers, including microwaveable and precooked bacon, food service and retail bacon, deli hams and Hormel Compleats microwave meals.
“As a global company, we understand the importance of ensuring people and food safety,” Richard Carlson, vice president of quality assurance, said in the release.
“We will continue to put team members' safety first at Rochelle Foods as we look forward to reopening on Monday.”
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