National Guard tests all employees at Palermo's in Milwaukee after 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19

MILWAUKEE -- All employees at Palermo's Pizza in Milwaukee were tested for COVID-19 Monday, May 4 after an outbreak at the facility. The Wisconsin National Guard assisted with the testing. On Friday, May 1, Palermo's president and CEO announced five employees had tested positive, and "we must close for at least 48 hours to implement additional mitigation steps."

Below is the complete statement from Palermo's President and CEO Giacomo Fallucca on Friday:

“We have received notice from the City of Milwaukee Health Department that because we have had five employees test positive for the COVID-19 virus, we must close for at least 48 hours to implement additional mitigation steps in consultation with City of Milwaukee Health Department staff.  We will comply with the order and add to the already stringent sanitation program we already have in place. We will be working with the Wisconsin National Guard who will be conducting testing as a service on site for all of our employees in the near future and labs ready to perform immediate processing.

“We have been in communication with Health Department staff on this matter and had briefed them on what we are doing to provide a safe and sanitary workplace.  Of our five positive cases, one of our employees has fully recovered. The other four are quarantined at their respective homes.

“Nonetheless, we will work with the Health Department, local, and state officials to demonstrate our commitment to operating at a very high standard of cleanliness and sanitation that protects our employees and operations.

“The safety and well-being of our employees is a priority to our company, and we have taken several steps to help keep them safe and minimize the chance of them contracting the COVID-19 virus. This includes having all employees not essential to production work from home, instituting social distancing measures and providing additional PPE in our plant to help keep our manufacturing employees safe as well.

“It’s also important to reaffirm the safety of our products, and there is no known risk to consumers who purchase Palermo’s products at the retail/grocery level. Palermo’s is a USDA regulated and supervised operation with USDA inspectors on-site during every shift to ensure stringent standards are met and to make sure our products meet the high standards set by federal regulators. In addition, according to the FDA, there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is transmitted through consumption of shelf-stable, refrigerated or frozen foods. Food or food packaging also have not been associated with transmission.

“We already have taken actions to respond to a potential workplace exposure that is based on Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. This includes requesting all coworkers who may have come into contact with an employee who tests positive to self-quarantine for 14 days; augmenting daily cleaning and sanitizing procedures with regular deep cleaning and sanitizing of common areas; and notifying all employees about the workplace exposure.”