WEST LIBERTY, IOWA – After three employees tested positive for COVID-19 at its West Liberty, Iowa, processing plant, West Liberty Foods announced it would close the facility at the end of its second shift on April 9. Officials plan to reopen the plant on April 14 after performing extensive cleaning and sanitizing operations. The plant processes packages and slices turkey, beef, pork and chicken for foodservice and retail customers and employs more than 800 people.
“Upon learning of the positive cases, we immediately activated our COVID-19 response protocols to identify other team members who may have been at risk of exposure,” said Brandon Achen, chief operating officer. “The infected team members and the individuals working in proximity who were determined to be at moderate or high risk have been sent home to self-quarantine with pay.”
The company has taken precautions to prevent and respond to an outbreak, including using personal protective equipment, extra sanitation, restrictions on travel, social distancing and modified attendance policies. According to health officials, 80 cases of the virus have been confirmed resulting in one death reported in Muscatine County, where the West Liberty plant is located.
“Our first priority is the health and well-being of our team, and we will continue to take precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of illness,” said Ed Garrett, chief executive officer.
“We are especially proud of and grateful to our team members who allow us to help meet the nation’s food supply needs during these challenging times,” Achen added.