SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Tyson Foods Inc. announced on May 20 that 570 of the 2,244 employees and contractors who work at the Wilkesboro, NC, poultry facility tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The majority of those who tested positive did not show any symptoms.

“We are working closely with local health departments to protect our team members and their families, and to help manage the spread of the virus in our communities,” said Tom Brower, senior vice president of Health and Safety for Tyson Foods. “We are using the most up-to-date data and resources to support our team members, and we are committed to ensuring they feel safe and secure when they come to work.”

Production at the facility was cut back on May 14 to perform deep cleaning and sanitizing. Processing has now begun to ramp back up.

Of the 2,244 employees tested, 2,007 were tested on-site from May 6 to May 9 – the rest of the employees were tested by the Department of Health or by their own healthcare providers.

Employees who test positive receive paid leave and can return to work after they have met the criteria established by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Tyson. 

“Our team members are essential to helping to feed the nation, and their health and safety is always our first priority,” said Kevin Taylor, complex manager for the Wilkesboro facility. “Disclosing our testing results will help better protect our team members and help provide the wider Wilkesboro community with the information it needs to stop the spread of the virus.”

As part of a plan to ensure the safety of its employees and contract workers during the reopening of its meat and poultry processing facilities across the country, Tyson Foods Inc. announced on April 30, a partnership with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Matrix Medical Network. Using a fleet of mobile health clinics and a staff of healthcare providers specializing in testing for and diagnosing patients possibly infected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Wilkesboro facility is among the initial group of more than 30 production facilities in the United States where Tyson is utilizing Matrix Medical’s services.

Employees at the Wilkesboro facility will have access to daily clinical symptom screenings, nurse practitioners and enhanced education. Axiom Medical, a health care case management provider, will also track the symptoms of team members who test positive and provide additional care.

Tyson has put in place several protective measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19. These include symptom screenings for all employees before every shift, providing mandatory protective face masks to all employees, as well as social distancing measures including physical barriers between workstations and in break rooms.