SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Tyson Foods Inc. continued to share testing results from some of its plants that are still dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.
After making the decision on May 29 to temporarily close its Storm Lake, Iowa, pork processing plant, the company said of the 2,303 workers tested at the facility, 591 tested positive for COVID-19. Tyson noted that more than 75% did not show any symptoms.
Testing occurred onsite from May 18 to May 21 where 533 cases were identified. Fifty-eight other Tyson employees were tested by the Iowa Department of Health or by their own health care providers.
Tyson said 186 people who tested positive have been through their required absence and have now returned to work.
At another case-ready beef and pork facility in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Tyson also tested employees and found 224 tested positive for COVID-19, of 1,483 people tested. The company said 103 employees have returned to work following their required absence.
Finally, as a precautionary measure, Tyson Foods will start conducting facility-wide testing at plants close to its Arkansas headquarters in Benton and Washington Counties. As of June 1, the company said it is aware of 77 active COVID-19 cases among its nearly 24,500 employees who work in the state.
The company said employees who test positive for COVID-19 receive paid leave and may return to work only when they have met the criteria established by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Tyson Foods. Workers at the Storm Lake facility have access to daily clinical screenings, nurse practitioners and enhanced health and wellness education.
“At Tyson, our team members come first, and we are focused on ensuring they feel safe and secure when they come to work,” said Tom Brower, senior vice president of health and safety for Tyson Foods. “We are proud that our decision to conduct large scale testing and disclose the results will provide our community with the latest information to help mitigate the virus and further protect our team members and their families.”
Tyson also increased short-term disability coverage to 90% of normal pay until June 30 to encourage workers to stay home when they are sick. The company also doubled its “thank you” bonus for frontline workers. Team members who cannot come to work because of illness or childcare issues related to COVID-19 will continue to qualify for the bonus, the company said.