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Mayor, JBS Food confirm COVID-19 cases at another Alberta meat-packing plant

Click to play video 'JBS Canada confirms multiple cases of COVID-19 at meat packing plant in Brooks' JBS Canada confirms multiple cases of COVID-19 at meat packing plant in Brooks
WATCH: Another meat packing plant in Alberta is confirming multiple cases of COVID-19 at its facility. Tomasia DaSilva has more.

The City of Brooks, east of Calgary, is dealing with the novel coronavirus at its nearby meat-processing plant.

“There is more than one case at the meat packing plant,” Mayor Barry Morishita said.

JBS Food Canada confirmed to Global News it has had team members test positive in some of its facilities, but it would not specify how many.

Company officials went on to say: “The JBS Brooks beef production facility is open and operating.”

“As a food company, we recognize and embrace the important role we play in making sure people have access to safe, quality food.”

The company added it is working hard to provide a safe working environment for its team members and has implemented several preventative measures.

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WATCH: High River mayor says COVID-19 cases likely linked to workers at Cargill meat processing plant

Click to play video 'Mayor says High River COVID-19 cases likely linked to workers at Cargill meat processing plant' Mayor says High River COVID-19 cases likely linked to workers at Cargill meat processing plant
Mayor says High River COVID-19 cases likely linked to workers at Cargill meat processing plant

 

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Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday AHS is looking into the cases in the community.

“We have been informed about several cases in Brooks,” Hinshaw said.

“There may be a linkage to that particular plant. Local public health is doing an active investigation and working to determine that linkage and what kinds of processes may be required.”

JBS said it is not aware of any concerns about community spread or the plant remaining open.

The province announced Thursday that an “intergovernmental business resumption protocol” for provincially or federally licensed food processing facilities in Alberta has been established.

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The plan was created to keep workers safe while keeping Albertans fed during the pandemic, the agriculture minister said.

Click to play video 'Hinshaw updates current COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta' Hinshaw updates current COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta
Hinshaw updates current COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta

Morishita said he is not calling for a closure of the plant.

“We need food production to continue on. Not just in Alberta, but across the country,” Morishita said. “We believe that the measures that are taken in the plant are adequate to prevent the spread.”

READ MORE: Alberta meat plant making changes after union calls for more COVID-19 protection for workers

Global News has also learned a staff member at an assisted care centre for seniors — AgeCare Sunrise Gardens in Brooks — has also tested positive.

Staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at assisted living facility in Brooks
Staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at assisted living facility in Brooks. Global News/Tom Reynolds

AgeCare officials said the worker will not return to work until cleared by public health and “no residents have positive tests.”

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Morishita said it’s always concerning when a seniors’ facility is affected.

“We obviously know that that’s the most vulnerable of our population,” he added. “We’re very, very concerned, but at this point we’re satisfied that all the proper steps have been taken.”

Morishita said it’s important to now focus the community’s efforts on following pandemic protocols.

“We know that community spread is a problem and we are very concerned about it. We’re imploring all of our residents to follow the rules.”