“Several” employees test positive for COVID-19 at N.C. Tyson meat processing plant

Updated: Apr. 28, 2020 at 10:16 PM EDT
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WILKESBORO, N.C. (WBTV) - Several employees at the Tyson Foods meat processing plant in Wilkesboro have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the town announced on its website.

The town didn’t say how many employees have tested positive, but did say that employees whom the infected individuals have come into contact with have been instructed to self-isolate.

The plant’s on-site medical professionals are performing additional contact tracing within the facility, and the Wilkes County Health Department is tracing contact the infected employees who live in the county made outside the facility.

Town Manager Ken Noland says exact numbers have not been released but said “we know it’s a significant amount.”

Wednesday afternoon, officials updated the coronavirus numbers and said there are 49 confirmed cases ongoing in the county with a majority of them tied to the Tyson outbreak.

Two people are hospitalized but no details were given on those cases. Local leaders say Tyson officials have told them that all of those who tested positive are isolated at home as well as close contacts they have identified so far.

Health officials say the search for more contacts is continuing. The company also told health officials that screening of employees has been stepped up.

Tyson Foods has started taking worker temperatures and installing infrared walkthrough temperature scanners, the town said. It has also installed work station dividers, provided more break room space and erected outdoor tents for additional break space.

People inside the facility are now required to wear masks and additional cleaning and sanitizing is taking place.

The plant is still in operation. Several truckloads of chickens were seen going into the processing plant property On Wednesday.

“We’ve taken both of our responsibilities to continue feeding the nation and keeping our team members safe and healthy seriously,” Tyson Foods group president of poultry Chad Martin said in the release.

COVID-19 has posed big problems for meat production across the country. According to CNN, three meat processing plants in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa responsible for 15 percent of the country’s pork production have had to shut down indefinitely.

Tyson has closed plants in Iowa and Indiana so that facilities could be tested for COVID-19.

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