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RACINE, WI – Local manufacturer InSinkErator shut down its facility at 4700 21st Street at 2 p.m. Thursday after two more employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Missouri-based Emerson Electric Co. owns Racine-based InSinkErator. Considered an essential business because they make garbage-disposers, the company sells products to commercial and residential customers. 

The company shut down the facility so that they could bring in cleaning crews.

Employees received a phone call from the company Thursday afternoon saying the facility at 4700 21st St. was being closed “effective immediately.”

In a written statement, Emerson spokesperson David Baldridge said the company remains focused on the health and safety of its employees.

“We have had two confirmed coronavirus cases this week at our InSinkErator 21st Street facility in Racine, Wisconsin. Out of an abundance of caution, the InSinkErator facility was temporarily closed Thursday afternoon, May 7, for deep cleaning and sanitizing of the entire plant by a professional cleaning service. The plant is expected to reopen Monday morning, May 11. All employees will receive pay based on their regularly scheduled hours.”

In April, two co-workers and a vendor had tested positive for the virus, which prompted some employees to voice concerns about the protocols being implemented by the company. Now the total is four employees and one vendor tested positive for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

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Somewhere between 20 and 60 percent of adults could contract the virus, and about a fifth of the people who get COVID-19 could need to be hospitalized. But 80 percent of the cases result in people experiencing mild symptoms. For months, the question has been — over what timeframe will the disease spread, according to officials at the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Health officials have voiced concerns that the spread of the virus could mean more significant numbers of people will need medical care. If that happens, hospitals will not be able to deal with a higher volume of patient care. The term flattening the curve refers to fewer people contracting the virus and having less of an impact on the state’s healthcare system.

The number of known cases is significantly less than predictive models that indicated that the state would see between 440 and 1,500 deaths by April 8.

Read more: COVID-19 symptoms

Some employees, who spoke to the Racine County Eye on condition of anonymity, said they didn’t feel safe working there because people weren’t required to wear masks. But they were offered three paper masks earlier in the week, several weeks after the first confirmed case had been reported.

Baldridge told the Racine County Eye last month that employees could wear masks if they wanted to.

“I feel they’re saying one thing on paper and doing another.” the person said.

Another person told the Racine County Eye that they worried about others getting sick.

“This is a serious situation,” they said. “If people become sick from the now confirmed case, it doesn’t matter that they cleaned the factory. More (people) will spread it who come down with it.”

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.