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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise and among them have been employees at National Beef and Cargill meat packing plants in Dodge City.


Each business has indicated it is taking the proper steps in order to maintain operations.


"I can confirm that an employee who works at our protein facility in Dodge City has tested positive for COVID-19," said Cargill media relations director Daniel Sullivan. "The employee is receiving appropriate medical care; due to privacy laws, we cannot share further details.


"Our priority is limiting the spread of the virus where we can, and we are working with local health officials to ensure appropriate prevention, testing, cleaning and quarantine protocols are followed. "We also will continue to enforce a mandatory 14-day quarantine for any employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19, and that includes any employees who may have come into contact with any team member who has tested positive for the virus."


According to Sullivan, Cargill has been able to reach all food manufacturer, retail and food service customer orders, with enough food being made available for people and pets.


Cargill, as well as National Beef, are part of essential services allowed to maintain operations during the pandemic to provide food to retailers, service providers and restaurants.


"In almost all countries where we operate, food production has been deemed an essential service and so Cargill is committed to keeping our production facilities open where we can do so safely," Sullivan said. "We may be working differently, but it does not mean our work stops. We are prioritizing the health and safety of our employees, as they are essential in delivering the food we all need to stay healthy and nourished."


Precautions Cargill is taking include temperature testing, providing and encouraging use of face masks, cleaning and sanitizing procedures, prohibiting visitors into facilities, stopping international and domestic air travel, adopting social distancing practices where possible and offering shift flexibility, staggered breaks, increased spacing in work areas and waiving co-pays for COVID-19 testing for employees.


"All of our production facilities are working their response playbooks," Sullivan said. "Our employees are working hard to take care of the nation, so we are taking extra steps to care of them and their families.


"This includes steps like PTO and incentive pay in addition to the health and safety measures as stated.


"We have announced a temporary employee wage increase and bonus incentive program for our U.S. and Canadian production facility employees."


According to Sullivan, the incentive program began on March 24 and will continue through May 3.


Cargill employees are also given paid leave of 14 days for COVID-19 related-illnesses.


As more confirmed cases take place in Dodge City and the country, Sullivan said, "We are of course monitoring the situation and adjusting as needed."


To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.