Tyson Foods, Inc. is reporting a significant outbreak of COVID-19 at its Wilkesboro, North Carolina poultry plant. It appears the meat processing crisis is far from over, despite President Trump declaring an executive order weeks ago to reopen closed meat processing plants.
Of the 2,244 workers and contractors at Wilkesboro facility who were recently tested, 570 tested positive for the virus, which equates to about 25% of the staff is infected. Many of the workers "did not show any symptoms," Tyson says.
Workers who tested positive were immediately sent home with paid leave and will return to work once they have met specific criteria laid out by both the CDC and Tyson.
The Wilkesboro facility is among 30 meat processing plants where Tyson has distributed "advanced testing capabilities and enhanced care options on-site to team members in partnership with MATRIX MEDICAL."
"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 Foods.
"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 come to work."
Tyson has spent the last several weeks installing new health protocols at its plants that exceed CDC and OSHA guidelines for preventing COVID-19. Some of these new measures include:
"These include symptom screenings for all team members before every shift, providing mandatory protective face masks to all team members, as well as a range of social distancing measures including physical barriers between workstations and in break rooms."
Earlier this month, we described how meat processing plants are perfect environments for COVID-19 to thrive. Here are some of the most recent plants to shutter operations due to virus-related issues.
Here are some of the latest statistics of infected meat processing plant workers
And it appears the meat processing crisis due to COVID-19 continues through late May.