Tyson Foods announced the results of facility-wide testing for COVID-19 at its Wilkesboro, North Carolina poultry facility. Of the 2,244 employees and contractors who work at the chicken-processing plant and were tested, 570 tested positive, the majority of whom did not show any symptoms and otherwise would not have been identified.
According to the company, the total comprises 237 individuals who were tested by the Department of Health or when seeking care through their own health care providers and an additional 2,007 individuals who were tested onsite from May 6 to May 9.
Tyson said workers who have tested positive are on paid leave and may return to work only when they have met the criteria established by both the CDC and Tyson.
Production has begun to ramp up at the chicken-processing plant, where operations were limited on May 14 to carry out additional deep cleaning.
Using Advanced Testing at the Chicken-Processing Plant
The Wilkesboro facility is among an initial group of more than 30 production facilities in the United States where Tyson is rolling out advanced testing capabilities and enhanced care options on-site to team members in partnership with Matrix Medical, a leading medical clinical services company, and other partners, according to a press release.
The company is prioritizing communities with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 and will assess additional needs based on significant risk factors and access to testing.
As it is doing at the Wilkesboro chicken-processing plant, Tyson will disclose verified test results at other plants to health and government officials, team members and stakeholders as part of its efforts to help affected communities where it operates better understand the coronavirus and the protective measures that can be taken to help prevent its spread.
“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.”
Team members at Tyson’s Wilkesboro chicken-processing plant have access to daily clinical symptom screenings, nurse practitioners, and enhanced education. Axiom Medical, a health care case management provider, will also track the symptoms of team members who test positive and provide additional care.
Tyson has also put in place a host of protective steps that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19. 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.
“Our team members are essential to helping to feed the nation, and their health and safety is always our first priority,” said Kevin Taylor, Complex Manager for Wilkesboro facility. “Disclosing our testing results will help better protect our team members and help provide the wider Wilkesboro community with the information it needs to stop the spread of the virus.”
Tyson Foods has increased short-term disability coverage to 90% of normal pay until June 30 to encourage team members to stay home when they are sick. The company also has doubled its “thank you” bonus for its frontline workers.