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Cargill’s positive COVID cases climb to 21, approximately 80 employees sent home

Union said the source of the outbreak is unknown
20200424 Cargill Dunlop Plant KA
21 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at the Cargill meat processing facility on Dunlop Road in Guelph. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday file photo

As of Wednesday, 21 workers at Cargill's meat processing facility on Dunlop Drive have now tested positive for COVID-19.

The information was confirmed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union that represents 70,000 workers at meat processing facilities in Ontario, including those at Guelph's two Cargill plants.

The 21 cases include the eight workers that were sent home last week after testing positive. 

“At this time, there are a number of employees who have been identified for contact tracing who have been sent to isolate while they await test results,” said Tim Deelstra, engagement and media relations strategist for UFCW Locals 175 and 633.

Deelsta said as of yesterday, approximately 80 employees were sent home. 

He also added that production at the facility has been slowed to provide for increased spacing. There has also been an increase in cleaning measures.  

The union had also stated that cleaning measures had increased after the eight positive cases last week. 

Deelsta said the union does not have information about the source of the COVID-19 cases. 

“It’s our understanding that there were employees who felt sick, they had to go isolate. They went and got a test and had a result that came back positive and they started the process through Public Health and contact tracing and that's led us to where we are today,” said Deelstra. 

He said the decision to shut down the facility is up to Cargill. 

“We at the union are concerned for our members. We wish them all the best as they isolate and recover,” said Deelstra. 

“We are in constant communication with the employer and we will take every step we can to make sure that the health and safety of the workers is maintained.”

Cargill did not immediately respond to a request for comment.