DELPHI — Indiana Packers is ready to resume operations again.
The pork-producing facility in Delphi announced plans Thursday to begin limited operations May 8.
The company temporarily closed the facility April 24 “out of an abundance of caution” after numerous employees tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” while noting the rise in the number of cases in neighboring counties.
The Carroll County Health Department and Indiana State Department of Health jointly began testing Indiana Packers’ 2,267 workers and contractors April 30-May 1.
Dr. Jordan Dutter, Carroll County’s health officer, toured the plant May 6 and reviewed everything the company had done to ensure the health and safety of its employees.
“I was very impressed with IPC’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus and the company’s dedication to best ensure the health and safety of its team members,” Dutter stated. “Based upon my tour and review of IPC’s mitigation efforts, I believe the measures taken will allow those team members to work safely, as IPC continues to follow CDC guidelines and recommendations.
“Indeed, the decision to reopen has my full support.”
During the temporary shutdown, company officials said more physical barriers and hand sanitizer dispensers were added, as well as a “deep cleaning and plant-wide sanitation.”
When production resumes Friday, officials said the company will implement a series of “engineered improvements” such as increased physical distancing that will begin in the parking lot and facility entrances. This flow will continue with staggered start and break times.
As employees enter the facility, officials said they will be given fitted masks for the mandatory mask policy and there will be enhanced health screenings, including temperature checks, health questions and follow-up checks throughout the day.
“This pause in operations and the testing of our employees was absolutely a critical moment in our ongoing effort to create a safe work environment,” Indiana Packers President and CEO Russ Yearwood said. “The safety of our team members, contractors and the community are crucial. We suspected the testing process would generate an increase in positive cases unknown to us, but this was the point. This voluntary testing identified those who are positive for the virus.”
Of the 2,267 employees tested, 301 returned positive COVID-19 results, including those who were asymptomatic, or those producing or showing no symptoms. Company officials said the Carroll County Health Department is working with all those who tested positive and have been given instructions for follow-up care and support.
The remaining 87 percent of employees and individuals who tested negative will be allowed to return to work, assuming they are not symptomatic, company officials said.
“The health care resources provided were invaluable in our ongoing efforts to protect our team members and to begin reopening as expeditiously and safely as possible,” Yearwood said.