LAUREL, MISS. – Sanderson Farms Inc. announced today that an employee at the company’s McComb, Miss., poultry processing plant tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The company said the individual’s work area was contained to a single processing table.
According to Joe F. Sanderson, president and chief executive officer of Sanderson Farms, the company has taken immediate steps to protect the health and safety of other employees. The supplier is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health department guidelines and procedures developed through consultation with an infectious disease physician.
The company has identified six individuals who worked in close contact with the infected employee and could be at risk of contracting or carrying the virus. Those six associates have been sent home to self-quarantine with pay. Sanderson said the company has conducted a thorough cleaning of the affected area as well as all other facilities.
“We notified all other personnel at the McComb plant of the confirmed case and will continue to work in close partnership with the local health department in McComb and the Mississippi State Department of Health for guidance,” Sanderson said. “We will follow these same procedures if other employees at any of our facilities test positive for the virus. All of our locations, including McComb, continue normal operations.”
The company has implemented a site infection control plan at all locations and has company health professionals trained to identify employees with symptoms of COVID-19. Last week Sanderson Farms announced updated protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because few company employees can do their jobs from home, Sanderson Farms is continuously evaluating staffing needs and on-site health and safety measures.
Sanderson Farms belongs to the list of industries and companies identified as essential and plans to continue operating through the duration of the global health crisis. The company said there are no known cases of COVID-19 spreading through food.
“Our first and most important priority is the health and well-being of our employees, and we continue to take precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of illness. We are actively monitoring this evolving situation to ensure we are operating in the safest manner possible,” Sanderson said. “During these challenging times, we are especially proud of the dedicated work of our employees, growers and partners, who support our ability to produce and deliver safe, quality chicken products to our customers and consumers.”