COVID-19 has been detected at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Perry, according to two independent sources who contacted ThePerryNews.com Friday. Both sources requested anonymity.
Tyson management neither confirmed nor denied the COVID-19 claims.
“For privacy reasons, we’re not sharing specifics about any team member’s health,” Liz Croston, communications manager for Tyson Foods Inc., told ThePerryNews.com Friday.
Privacy concerns did not prevent Tyson Foods Inc. CEO Noel White from announcing Monday that “more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 involving team members” were discovered at the Columbus Junction pork plant, forcing the plant to close for a week of disinfection.
Croston outlined the procedures that would be taken if a positive case of COVID-19 were identified.
“We can tell you that we’re taking measures to protect our people,” she said. “If there is a confirmed case at one of our locations, as part of our protocol and in collaboration with health officials, we notify anyone who has been in close contact with the person and instruct them to go home and self-quarantine. We also inform team members who have not been exposed and provide information to our supervisors so they can help answer questions.”
One of ThePerryNews.com’s anonymous sources at the Perry plant said, “I heard from a supervisor they were telling them in a meeting and giving them key points to tell their people,” and “they were only informing people who had been in close contact.”
Croston said additional precautions are being taken at all Tyson facilities in order to prevent
“We’ve been diligently educating team members about the virus and ways to avoid catching it,” she said. “We’re restricting visitor access to our plants and have also relaxed our attendance policy to reinforce the importance of staying home when sick. We’re also taking team member temperatures before they enter our facilities. We’re doing additional cleaning and sanitation in breakrooms, lockers and other areas and are providing expanded space to support social distancing in the facilities. Additionally, we’ll be providing protective face coverings for production workers and are working with the CDC on additional guidance on the use of personal protective equipment.”
The Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Perry employs about 1,300 workers, making it the second largest employer in Dallas County. Like all agricultural and ag-related workers, Tyson workers are classified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers, according to a letter issued to workers at the plant last week.
Tyson Foods Inc. is the world’s second-largest processor and marketer of meat. Along with the Perry and Columbus Junction plants, the Springdale, Arkansas-based multinational corporation operates six other plants in Iowa, including factories in Council Bluffs, Independence, Storm Lake and Waterloo. Tyson’s U.S. operations employ about 100,000 workers in 27 states.