570 workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus after Tyson Foods recently tested all of the 2,244 employees at its poultry plant in Wilkesboro, NC, the company announced in a release this week. Most of the infected workers did not exhibit physical symptoms.
“Our team members are essential to help feed the nation, and their health and safety is always our first priority,” Kevin Taylor, the complex manager of the Wilkesboro site, said in a statement.
237 cases were identified through the North Carolina Department of Health, while the other ill workers’ status was determined through on-site testing conducted by Tyson from May 6 to May 9.
“We are working closely with local health departments to protect our team members and their families, and to help manage the spread of the virus in our communities,” said Tom Brower, senior vice president of health and safety for Tyson, said in the release. “We are using the most up-to-date data and resources to support our team members, and we are committed to ensuring they feel safe and secure when they do come to work.”
Those who have tested positive are receiving paid leave and are only permitted to go back to the facility when they meet certain criteria set by Tyson and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tyson’s Wilkesboro facility is one of 30 production plants where the company is implementing new testing capabilities and on-site care options through a partnership with medical clinical services firm MATRIX MEDICAL. Workers at the plant can access daily symptom screenings, receive education, and talk to nurses.
Production at the Wilkesboro plant was reduced on May 14 to allow the company to perform a deep cleaning of the building. Since then, Tyson has put a range of safety measures in place, including temperature checks, mandatory face masks for workers, and social distancing practices. The company said the facility is in the process of ramping operations back up.