Workers Protest Virus Outbreak at Minnesota Poultry Plant

May 13, 2020

Workers have protested what they consider dangerous working conditions at the Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in the central Minnesota town of Cold Spring, site of one of the largest COVID-19 workplace outbreaks in the state.

State officials confirmed 194 cases as of May 11 among the plant’s more than 1,100 workers. That’s more than double the 83 cases just four days earlier.

A chain of around 80 vehicles carrying workers and supporters rolled past the facility on May 11, demanding the company shut it down for a deep cleaning and pay the workers for the down time. Pablo Tapia, one of the rally organizers, told the Star Tribune that Pilgrim’s Pride knew the outbreak was growing but kept ignoring it.

Pilgrim’s Pride said in a statement it has “implemented a wide of range of measures to combat coronavirus” at the plant.

Only the JBS pork plant in Worthington has experienced a bigger workplace outbreak in Minnesota. JBS had 541 confirmed cases as of May 11.

Outbreaks at the Cold Spring plant and other facilities in the region have made the greater St. Cloud area a hot zone. State officials say the plant has been a significant driver of the more than 1,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Stearns County.

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