Tyson idles poultry plant in Wilkesboro, North Carolina

Tyson Foods suspended production at its poultry plant in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in order to conduct deep cleaning and sanitation procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roy Graber Headshot
(Andrea Gantz)
(Andrea Gantz)

Tyson Foods suspended production at its poultry plant in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in order to conduct deep cleaning and sanitation procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operations at the plant were idled on May 9 through May 11, Tyson Foods spokesperson Derek Burleson said. The plant is ordinarily closed on Sundays, so only two days of production were lost. Burleson said plans are to have the plant resume full operations on May 12.

“This is by no means an extended idling of the plant,” Burleson said in a telephone interview.

About 2,200 people are employed at the plant, according to a report from the Winston-Salem Journal.

Meanwhile, Burleson said operations continued without interruption at Tyson Foods’ food service plant in Wilkesboro. There are about 275 employees at that plant.

Tyson Foods’ poultry wastewater treatment plant in Wilkesboro was a recipient of a U.S. Poultry & Egg Association Clean Water Award in 2014.

Tyson Foods, which is the largest broiler company in the United States and a leading producer of turkey, pork and beef products, has had numerous U.S. facilities impacted by the pandemic.

Among its facilities to have production temporarily suspended are a poultry plant in Robards, Kentucky; a beef plant in Pasco, Washington; a beef plant in Dakota City, Nebraska; a pork plant in Logansport, Indiana; a pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa; a pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa; and a pork plant in Madison, Nebraska.

The Robards plant, like the Wilkesboro facility, was only briefly closed for sanitation purposes.

Plants that have resumed production

The Tyson Foods pork plant in Madison has resumed limited production on May 11, according to an email from Tyson Foods spokesperson Morgan Watchous.

According to Watchous, the decision to reopen the plant was done in coordination with local health and government officials.

“All team members returning to work have been tested for COVID-19, and any team member who has tested positive will remain on sick leave until they have satisfied official health requirements outlined by the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for return to work. Team members who have not been tested will be unable to return to work and all new hires will be tested prior to starting work,” Watchous said.

Tyson Foods earlier issued press releases stating operations have resumed in Pasco, Logansport, Columbus Junction and Waterloo.

Tyson Foods, through the pandemic, has added additional worker safety measures, including relaxing attendance policies, installing infrared scanners to check worker temperatures, requiring protective face coverings, and installing workplace dividers.

 View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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