Warren Co. investigating COVID-19 outbreak at food plant

WARREN CO., Ill. (NEWS3) — The Warren County Health Department is investigating a COVID-19 connection of a local food manufacturer.

Officials announced the county now has a total of three confirmed coronavirus cases that all surround around employees of Smithfield, a food packaging plant in Monmouth. According to Smithfield’s website, the company is one of the largest pork producing companies.

Warren County Health Department Administrator Jenna Link said two employees are Rock Island County residents and the other lives in Warren County.

“Through a collaborative effort between the Warren County Health Department, Smithfield, Illinois Department of Public Health and OSF Healthcare, prioritized testing has been established to assist with this investigation,” Link said. “Intensive contact tracing has been ongoing.”

Link said recommendations for additional protective measures have been addressed such as wearing masks, installing barriers, expanding areas for employee breaks, hand sanitizing stations, temperature scans and symptoms screening upon entry into the facility.

Smithfield Foods said on its website that employees who test positive for the coronavirus will be instructed not to report to work and they will be quarantined with pay. The company will also ask the employees to identify all coworkers they have worked in close proximity with in the last 14 days so they can notify those workers without identifying the employee.

Warren County Health Department staff said all three employees are recovering at home.

Latest COVID-19 test results in surrounding counties around the NEWS3 viewing area:

  • McDonough County: 3 positive, 58 negative, 8 pending
  • Schuyler County: 1 positive, 16 negative 2 pending
  • Hancock County: 3 positive, 31 negative, 18 pending
  • Warren County: 3 positive, 15 negative, 0 pending
  • Fulton County: 1 positive, 46 negative, 3 pending
  • Knox County: 4 positive, 120 negative, 17 pending
  • Adams County: 29 positive, 349 negative, 46 pending

Smithfield Foods said it has taken measures to ensure its facility and employees are following strict CDC guidelines to manage the spread of COVID-19 cases.