400+ employees at Beaver Dam pizza manufacturer to be tested for COVID-19; 8 positive

BEAVER DAM -- All of the 420 employees at Beaver Dam pizza manufacturer Richelieu Foods will be tested for COVID-19 after eight positive cases were confirmed at the facility since last week, company officials announced Wednesday, May 6. The facility will be closed for the remainder of the week for the testing -- conducted with help from the Wisconsin National Guard.

“The health and safety of our employees, their families and our customers has always been our top priority,” said Richelieu Chief Executive Officer Ric Alvarez in a news release. “We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated employees who are working safely to provide essential food for our nation. Throughout this difficult time, we have made decisions to protect our employees and reduce their risk of infection in accordance with CDC guidelines and with guidance from the Dodge County Health Department. We believe that testing supported by the Wisconsin National Guard is an important next step to quickly identify any unknown cases, treat those employees, and isolate them to prevent further spread.”

The news release noted steps taken by the company in an effort to provide a safe work environment, including additional cleaning and sanitation, encouraging social distancing, requiring handwashing before entering the plant floor and consistent communication with employees.

During the shutdown, all employees will be paid for 40 hours,  and additional cleaning and sanitation by an external vendor will be completed, officials said.

“We are continuing our existing safety protocols, while also taking several other steps to control the spread of COVID-19,” said Alvarez in the release.

“Large-scale testing is a key public health strategy to identify disease outbreaks and act quickly to use other public health strategies (for example, contact tracing and isolation and quarantine) to contain infectious diseases," said Dodge County Public Health Officer Abby Sauer in the release. "We appreciate our local essential businesses for taking a principled approach in ensuring the health and safety of their employees, their families and our community.”