01STOCK_CORONAVIRUS04

BELOIT

Rock County health authorities are reporting an uptick in the number of workers known to be infected at the Hormel Foods plant in Beloit.

Rock County Health Department spokeswoman Kelsey Cordova said in an email to The Gazette on Wednesday that the county is aware of seven positive cases of COVID-19 infection in workers at the Hormel plant at 3000 Kennedy Drive. Three of those infected are Rock County residents, Cordova said.

That’s an uptick from last week, when the county and Hormel announced the infection of two workers at the plant, which operates as a “value-added” food packing plant that produces and packs non-meat foods of various types for Hormel.

Cordova said that as of Wednesday afternoon, Hormel remained open and in operation despite a growing number of COVID-19 infections. She said the plant was being “vigilant with infection control processes” and that the county’s health department is “in daily and constant communication” with Hormel management on the infections.

Last week, Hormel said two employees had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and that both were quarantining at home

As of this week, Cordova said, Hormel is “quarantining and requesting testing for all symptomatic employees.”

Last week, health authorities in Ogle County, Illinois, ordered the temporary closure of a Hormel Foods plant in Rochelle after about two dozen workers of the 800 or 900 that work at the plant tested positive for COVID-19 infection.

A human resources official at Hormel on Wednesday did not immediately respond to a Gazette inquiry for an employee headcount and an update on novel coronavirus infections at the plant and its impact on operations.

According to historical manufacturing headcounts that Rock County economic development officials track, fewer employees work at the Beloit plant than at the plant in Rochelle.

Hormel last week in a statement said it has in-house nurses monitoring employees at the Beloit plant. The company said it had stepped up sanitation at its plants and is delivering COVID-19-related communications to workers in several languages.

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