As meat packing facilities work through challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak, JBS announced they reopened the Greeley, Colo., facility over the weekend but temporarily closed a Green Bay, Wisconsin, plant.

The JBS Greeley beef production facility reopened after quarantining the workforce for a period of time exceeding recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To enhance the company’s existing daily temperature screening efforts, symptomatic team members are provided free, on-site testing, conducted in coordination with the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment (WCDPHE), before entering the facility. Any team member with a fever or other confirmed COVID-19 symptoms will be immediately sent home.

“After voluntarily closing the Greeley beef facility in an effort to stop potential spread among our workforce and contribute to community containment, we have taken proactive steps to complement our existing COVID-19 prevention efforts in the facility and continue to provide a safe working environment,” said Chris Gaddis, JBS USA Head of Human Resources. “We believe our partnership with the CDC, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and WCDPHE has enhanced our prevention protocols and will give our team members confidence to safely return to work.”

The Green Bay facility is smaller than the Colorado plant and employs 1,200 people.

“As an essential business providing necessary supplies and services for Wisconsin, we have endeavored to maintain operations to ensure continued access to safe, affordable food,” said Shannon Grassl, President of the JBS USA Regional Beef. “Given the continued spread of coronavirus in our community and among our workforce, we have decided to voluntarily close our Green Bay facility in an effort to help flatten the curve of infections in Brown County. We’ve been focused on doing everything we can to keep the virus out of our facility, but we believe a temporary closure is the most aggressive action we can take to help our community collectively slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The Greeley facility suspended harvest operations on April 9 and fabrication on April 15. Harvest operations resumed April 24 and fabrication resumed on Monday, April 27.  Team members were paid during the plant closure. All team members have been receiving temperature checks prior to entering the facility since April 2. Masks have been provided to team members since April 2 and are required to be worn at all times on company property.

In addition to the new screening and testing protocol, the company previously implemented the following preventive measures at the Greeley facility to provide a safe working environment for its team members:

Health & Safety

  • Health screenings for every person before they enter the facility each day, including temperature checks and symptom screenings
  • Providing extra PPE (personal protective equipment), including masks
  • Restricting access to the facility and not allowing visitors

Social Distancing

  • Social distancing by staggering starts, shifts and breaks, and increasing spacing in cafeterias, break and locker rooms
  • Onsite tents to create more space during break and lunch times
  • Plexiglass dividers on all lunch tables, both inside and outside
  • Signs and traffic flow markers throughout the facility
  • Lines on the floors and walls to reinforce a six-foot separation at all times
  • Physical barriers between team members while working on production lines

Sanitation

  • Hand sanitizing stations installed throughout the facility
  • Boot foam sanitizer when entering the facility
  • Sanitization team who continuously cleans and sanitizes the facility, including common areas beyond the production floor
  • Fogging key areas in the plant at least once a week by a trained third-party sanitation crew

Benefits

  • Removing vulnerable populations from facilities, offering full pay and benefits
  • Requiring sick team members to stay home from work
  • Waiving short-term disability waiting periods
  • Providing free 100% preventive care to all team members enrolled in the company’s health plan
  • Offering free LiveHealth Online services for team members enrolled in the company’s health plan that allow for virtual doctor visits at no cost

Education & Training

  • Management and supervisor training on what to look for and how to prevent COVID-19 in the plant
  • Extensive materials throughout the facility regarding team member welfare and social distancing
  • Signage noting the requirement of wearing a face mask and how to properly wear it
  • Educating team members on COVID-19 symptoms, how to prevent the virus and the importance of practicing social distancing at home and in the community