Of the 1,142 Tyson Foods team members at its poultry facility in Missouri who were tested for COVID-19, 291 tested positive.
The testing was conducted from June 17 to June 19, and the company announced the results of those tests on June 26. Of the 291 workers to test positive, 249 – or more than 85% – did not show any symptoms and otherwise would not have been identified. This is in addition to 80 positive cases identified among individuals who work at the facility by the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services or when seeking care through their own health care providers, bringing the total to 371 positive cases.
Team members who test positive receive paid leave during the quarantine period and may return to work only when they have met the criteria established by both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Tyson.
The Noel plant is one of more than 40 U.S. locations where the company’s extensive program of prevention and testing for the coronavirus is helping to contain the risk of community spread.
Tyson, in a press release, said it believes that large-scale testing protects its team members, helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 in local communities and helps maintain a reliable food supply chain. The company is also using sophisticated predictive tools to monitor areas of the country where hotspots could emerge.
To date, Tyson has conducted almost 40,000 tests throughout the country, covering more than one-third of its U.S.-based team members, in one of the largest corporate-sponsored testing programs in the United States. Testing at the Noel facility was done in partnership with MATRIX MEDICAL, a leading medical clinical services company.
“We are pleased that Tyson was able to effectively use the ‘box-in’ strategy by conducting facility-wide testing of their Noel team members,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “This approach will help protect the health of the Tyson team members and also the community at large.”
“Our priority and focus have been the protection of our team members and their communities. That starts with large-scale testing, but our holistic approach goes much further,” said Tom Brower, senior vice president of health and safety for Tyson Foods. “We believe it’s imperative that we share our experience addressing this pandemic because safety is not a point of competitive advantage. For example, we continue to explore additional enhancements in Personal Protective Equipment, airflow enhancements in our facilities, and improving healthcare options for our team members in the communities where we do business.”
Protective measures put in place at Tyson production facilities 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 breakrooms. Tyson has also designated more than 500 team members as social distance monitors in all its facilities and is working with team members to provide training and education, in several languages on how best to follow CDC guidelines both at work and home.
“Our team members do essential work, and their health and safety come first,” said Nathan McKay, complex manager for Tyson in Noel. “It is our job to protect our team members, and by disclosing our results we not only take the necessary precautions for our facility, but also provide the wider Noel community with the information it needs to stop the spread of the virus.”
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