ST. CLOUD -- State and local officials are assisting two local poultry processing plants after reports of employees testing positive for COVID-19.

Stearns County officials say employees of Pilgrim’s Pride in Cold Spring and Jennie-O in Melrose have tested positive for the virus. They did not specify how many workers or which departments they work in.

Stearns County, along with the Minnesota Department of Health and CentraCare, are helping both companies with their responses. Action plans are currently in progress, including the potential for testing ill employees and isolation and quarantine as needed.

County officials say both companies took appropriate steps to keep employees safe while continuing plant operations. Once plans for follow-up are finalized, employees of both companies will be given additional information and direction.

“COVID-19 is circulating in our communities,” stated a news release from Stearns County. “The stay at home order by Governor Walz remains in effect until May 4. We encourage everyone to follow guidance as outlined in the executive order, such as only traveling to do essential tasks like grocery shopping, going to work or assisting family members who are unable to care for themselves. As a reminder, if you are ill, you should self-isolate in your residence; make sure you stay away from others residing in your home. You will also want to make sure you do not leave your home unless it is an emergency. If you do need to leave for any reason, you should be masked. If you have been exposed to an ill person, we ask you to self-quarantine. This means stay at home as much as possible, monitor for any symptoms, and if you need to go out, wear a mask and assure you’re limiting your time out of the home. If you have or develop symptoms, please call your healthcare provider before you see your doctor. They will let you know their process for helping you.”

Anyone with questions is asked to call the Stearns/Benton County Hotline at 1-877-782-5683.

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