Cargill Protein closed its Hazelton, PA, plant on Tuesday, saying it will reopen “as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The Hazelton plant is in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania, which, according to WBRE/WYOU-TV, has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the area with 982, and 849 of them in Hazelton. An unspecified number of Cargill employees at the plant have tested positive.
Cargill employs 900 workers at the plant producing meat products for retail food customers. Those products include ground beef, steaks, roasts and pork products.
"Our goal is to keep our 900 employees healthy and minimize risk within the Hazleton community, which has been greatly impacted by COVID-19," the company said in a statement.
“This was a difficult decision for our team, but our values are guiding our actions,” said Jon Nash, Cargill Protein-North America, in the statement. “We’ve taken extra steps to focus on safety and remain operational, including temporary wage increases, bonuses and waiving co-pays for COVID-19 testing. We also implemented additional safety measures. Our facility will re-open as soon as is it is safe to do so.
"While this location is closed and we adapt to operating during a pandemic, our work doesn’t stop. Cargill provides an essential service. We are working with farmers and ranchers, our customers and our employees to supply food in this time of crisis and keep markets moving.”