SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork processing subsidiary of Tyson Foods Inc., announced limited production at its Pasco, Wash., beef facility starting May 5 after operations were idled on April 23 due to COVID-19.
According to the Benton-Franklin Health District at least 249 cases can be traced back to the plant. Three people from that group have died. Tyson Fresh Meats employs about 1,400 people at the facility.
“The health and safety of our team members is our top priority,” said Shane Miller, senior vice president and general manger beef enterprise at Tyson Fresh Meats. “While the plant was idle, we performed a deep clean and sanitization of the facility and took proactive steps to complement our existing prevention efforts.”
Tyson said workers will only return once they have met the criteria outlined by the CDC for safely returning employees back to work. Employees who have not been tested will be unable to return to work and all new hires will be tested prior to starting work.
The company said any people returning to work will begin their shift with a tour of the plant to see the changes made to promote social distancing and additional protective measures that follow CDC and OSHA’s guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers.
Precautions implemented at the plant included: infrared thermometers to check the temperature of team members before entering the plant; providing facial covering to every worker and require that they are used; required use of face shields for team members where workstation barriers can’t physically be implemented and wellness checks to screen for symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath.
“We would like to thank Tyson for continuing to take these measures seriously and putting the safety and welfare of their employees first,” said Meghan DeBolt, director of Walla Walla County Department of Community Health. “We would also like to thank our Department of Community Health team and Providence St. Mary Medical Center for helping test such a large number of Tyson employees quickly and efficiently.”
This past week, the company announced its partnership with Matrix Medical Network to provide medical clinical services at its facilities.
Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant will also resume production May 7 after being shut down for two weeks.