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How Hormel Foods Austin plant operates amid COVID-19 pandemic

Brett Bachtle
Created: April 27, 2020 07:31 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Day-to-day operations inside Hormel’s plant in Austin have changed quite drastically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since COVID has started, we’ve put kind of a multi-layer approach for our interventions. When you first come in the plant each and every day, we’ll give you a temp check. We’re temp-checking 100 percent of employees as they walk in the front door,” said Hormel Foods Austin Plant Manger Clint Walters.

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Hormel Foods has also taken steps to make sure employees aren’t gathering in locker rooms and break rooms as they begin their work day.

“Once you get down to the floor and go to your production area, then you’ll be donning a face mask. 100 percent of the people wear a face mask to work each and every day. Many people are wearing a face shield in addition to that, that they will then put over their face and face mask. Then, you’ll work now in your work area, maybe partitioned off with what we call our Plexiglas or plastic dividers between areas where specifically they can’t create social distance on the line. Now you have multi-layers of protection when you come into work each and every day,” Walters said.

A couple of weeks ago, the labor union representing workers at Hormel requested additional PPE from the governor. Walters says right now, it’s not needed.

“Where we’re at right now from a PPE standpoint, we have 100 percent outputted everybody with face masks and we have face shields available. We have the PPE we need to come to work each and every day in a safe manner,” said Walters.

Last week, the Minnesota governor’s office told ABC 6 News that the State Emergency Operations Center sent Hormel 5,500 non-medical grade masks as well as vendor contact information for cloth masks in the area the company can reach out to.

Walters confirmed that so far, Hormel has had one positive case of COVID-19 inside the Austin plant.

“We’ve had one and that’s been multiple weeks ago and that person’s now came back to work,” Walters said.

Protecting the safety of his employees continues to drive the decisions he makes on how to operate the plant.

Walters says that each day the employees walk into work with a different sense of pride knowing they are essential to the process.


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