Cargill Meat Solutions in Milwaukee will close temporarily for COVID-19 testing

MILWAUKEE -- Cargill Meat Solutions on Emmber Lane near Canal Street in Milwaukee will close Wednesday, May 6 at 1 p.m. to test employees for COVID-19.

A company spokeswoman issued this statement to FOX6 News on Tuesday:

"In accordance with a City of Milwaukee Health Department directive, Cargill’s Milwaukee, Wis. protein facility will temporarily idle effective May 6. We hope to resume operations as soon as possible. Employees will continue to be paid during their time off.

Cargill has encouraged any employees who are sick or have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days to stay home. While operational, we have offered up to 80 hours of additional paid leave related to COVID-19. We care deeply about our employees and their safety. They are everyday heroes on the frontlines of our food system.

While this location is idled and we adapt to operating during a pandemic, our work doesn’t stop. Cargill provides an essential service to the world—providing the ingredients, feed and food that nourishes people and animals. We are working with farmers and ranchers, our customers and our employees to supply food in this time of crisis and keep markets moving."

It was not immediately clear whether any positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among Cargill employees. However, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services' website features a page regarding COVID-19 investigations in facilities throughout the state, including workplaces.

As of April 29, that page showed a total of 32 facility-wide public health investigations at non-health care workplaces in southeast Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee County's coronavirus dashboard showed Tuesday 3,447 positive cases in the county, along with 196 deaths due to COVID-19. Of the positive cases, 2,566 have been patients in the city of Milwaukee.

Cargill's announcement came amid concerns for the nation’s food supply chain, after plants operated by TysonSmithfield and JBS were all forced to temporarily close. Industry analysts and insiders have predicted supermarket shoppers might soon be feeling the effects of hiccups in the supply chain, possibly seeing fewer options in the meat aisle, along with slightly higher prices.