A cluster of COVID-19 cases forced health officials in Illinois to shutter Hormel's Rochelle Foods plant on Friday.
Ogle County Health Department (OCHD) said the food processing plant would be closed for at least two weeks. On Friday (April 17), the facility was linked to 19 cases across Ogle County, three in Whiteside County, and two in Winnebago County, reported Daily Chronicle.
The facility employs more than 800 workers, many of whom have been sent home on paid leave. The facility will have 48 hours to comply with new health measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.
"My team has spent countless hours in collaboration with Rochelle Foods in an attempt to mitigate the virus spread," OCHD Administrator Kyle Auman said.
OCHD made several attempts to assist the plant in testing workers, employee monitoring, and recommendations for sanitary protocols, but health officials said, "the efforts were unsuccessful" to stop the spread.
"Since those efforts were unsuccessful, it is my duty to order a complete closure of the facility," Auman said.
Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows released a statement that said, "Although many essential businesses are open and operating, we will not tolerate them risking the health and safety of their employees or our community during this pandemic or any other time."
A statement released from Rochelle Foods said OCHD notified them that the plant had to be shut down due to a localized breakout at the facility. The closure, the company stated, was "voluntarily:"
"Rochelle Foods was issued a notice of closure from the local health department on April 17. We are working to further understand the closure order and are consulting with our legal counsel to understand next steps," Rochelle Foods said. "We have decided to voluntarily close our facility to ensure a broader understanding of COVID-19 in the Rochelle community, Ogle county and the impact on our operations. Rochelle Foods team members will continue to be paid during the closure."
As virus deaths surge across the country in the last several days, President Trump is attempting to reopen economies on a state-by-state basis on May 01. However, it appears that reopening America at this point could be met with failure and result in a second wave of the virus.