Rochelle food plant shut down by Ogle County Health Department after COVID-19 outbreak

ROCHELLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A cluster of COVID-19 cases has forced an Illinois food processing plant to shut down for at least two weeks.

Health officials in Ogle County, just west of DeKalb, say there are about 24 cases linked to Hormel Foods in the town of Rochelle. Those cases have shown up in Ogle County and other surrounding counties.

"Although many essential businesses are open and operating, we will not tolerate them risking the health and safety of their employees or our community during this pandemic or any other time," Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows said in a statement.

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More than 20 employees at a meat packing plant on the South Side have tested positive for COVID-19.

The county health department ordered the shutdown at the plant, where more than 800 people work, while steps are taken to control the outbreak.

The Ogle County Health Department said it has made several attempts to assist in the control of the outbreak, including recommendations for additional testing, additional steps for employee monitoring, recommendations for more sanitation, isolation of positive cases, quarantine of close contacts and recommendation of a two-week voluntary closure.

"Since these efforts were unsuccessful, it is my duty to order a complete closure of the facility," Health Department Administrator Kyle Auman said.

The company said workers will be paid during the shutdown.
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