ROCHELLE — Hormel’s Rochelle Foods facility will reopen on Monday following a 14-day shutdown prompted by a COVID-19 outbreak at the plant, the company confirmed Saturday.


Over 800 Rochelle Foods employees have been tested for COVID-19 and 123 tests came back positive, representing a 14% positivity rate.


Nine area health departments have conducted contact tracing and isolated all positive cases at Rochelle Foods to prevent further transmission, according to a news release from the Northern Illinois Rockford Region of health departments.


The testing was conducted by Rochelle Community Hospital and KSB Hospital in Dixon.


“During the pause in operations, additional enhanced safety procedures were implemented including deep cleaning of high-touch areas, reconfiguration of common areas and workstations, revised shift scheduling, new guidelines on carpooling and more extensive social distancing measures,” Rochelle Foods said in a news release. “Rochelle Foods will be moving forward with a reopening plan that exceeds CDC and OSHA guidelines, outlines procedures for continued team member safety and raises the bar on best practices in the food industry.”


Rochelle Foods makes grocery, foodservice and specially-formulated cancer nutrition products and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation.


“We have put the safety of our team members first throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so,” Rochelle Foods plant manager Bill Rice said. “As a leading employer in the area, and one with our core priority on the health and safety of our employees, we are certainly eager to get back to doing what we love and that’s making great food.”


Rochelle Foods and its employees announced plans to donate 10,000 meals to Feeding America and the local food bank. The company previously donated $10,000 to support community hunger programs during the COVID-19 crisis.


Ken DeCoster: kdecoster@rrstar.com; @DeCosterKen