Tyson Foods Inc. announced Sunday it will halt production for one day at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Perry in order to perform a deep cleaning of the plant in an effort to get ahead of the novel coronavirus
“We’re working hard to protect our team members during this ever-changing situation, while also ensuring we continue fulfilling our critical role of helping feed people in our community and across the country,” the company statement said. “As an added precaution, on Monday, we will suspend a day of production at our Perry facility to complete an additional deep clean of our facility.”
The company confirmed Friday night that “multiple people who work at the Perry plant have tested positive for COVID-19.”
Tyson Foods Inc. Communications Manager Liz Croston said workplace safety efforts are significant and strictly enforced. Specific actions taken to prevent spread of the virus include:
- checking worker temperatures as they arrive at the facility
- mandating and providing face coverings and initiating additional cleaning
- implementing social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers and providing more breakroom space
- relaxing the attendance policy in March in order to encourage workers to stay at home when they are sick
- educating team members on COVID-19, including the importance of following U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines away from work
“We understand everyone, including our team members, is anxious during this challenging time,” Croston said, “and we’re committed in doing everything to be there for each other as we navigate through this together.”
The Perry plant is not alone in its efforts to prevent further spread of the virus. A growing number of COVID-19 cases have cropped up among workers in beef, pork and poultry processing plants around the U.S., with recent days seeing reports of some 30 cases at the JBS plant in Worthington, Minnesota, 50 cases at the JBS plant in Greeley, Colorado, 108 cases at the National Beef Packing in Tama, Iowa, 186 cases at the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, 644 cases at Smithfield in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, an undisclosed number of cases at the Tyson plant in Waterloo, Iowa, and others.
Croston continued Sunday to decline to specify how many positive cases of COVID-19 have been identified at the Perry plat.
“No, we’re not disclosing numbers,” Croston said.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 261 or 67% of the 389 additional positive cases reported statewide Sunday can be attributed to surveillance testing of meat processing facilities. The number includes more than 500 completed surveillance tests of Tyson employees and more than 500 completed surveillance tests of National Beef employees, for a total of 84 positive and 177 positive respectively.