Tyson Foods, Inc. has released the results of facility-wide testing for COVID-19 at its Storm Lake, Iowa pork facility, where limited production will resume Wednesday following a temporary halt during which additional deep cleaning and sanitizing was conducted. Of the 2,303 team members who work at the facility and were tested, 591 tested positive, more than 75% of whom did not show any symptoms and otherwise would not have been identified.
The total comprises 58 individuals who were tested by the Department of Health or when seeking care through their own health care providers and an additional 533 who were tested onsite from May 18 to May 21. Team members who test positive receive paid leave and may return to work only when they have met the criteria established by both the CDC and Tyson. In all, 186 of the team members who tested positive have been through their required absence and have now returned to work.
The Storm Lake facility is among more than 40 production facilities in the United States where Tyson is rolling out advanced testing capabilities and enhanced care options onsite to team members in partnership with MATRIX MEDICAL, a leading medical clinical services company, and other partners.
"We are thankful for the efforts of Tyson Foods' management and team members to ensure the safety of employees as they continue in the best manner possible to process food for our country," says Keri Navratil, city manager for Storm Lake. "We know that the efforts to protect Tyson team members also protect their families and, in turn, our other residents."
As it is doing at the Storm Lake facility, Tyson will disclose test results at other plants where it is conducting facility-wide testing to health and government officials, team members and stakeholders as part of its efforts to help affected communities where it operates better understand the coronavirus and the protective measures that can be taken to help prevent its spread.
"Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we continue to take strong action to ensure they feel protected in their community and when they come to work," says Tom Brower, senior vice president of Health and Safety for Tyson Foods. "As in Storm Lake, we are routinely finding high levels of asymptomatic positives when we test widely at our plants and because of that, we can do a public service by sharing the results with the local community."
The company is prioritizing large-scale testing in communities with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 and will assess additional needs based on risk factors and access to testing.
Team members at Tyson's Storm Lake facility have access to daily clinical screenings, nurse practitioners and enhanced education. Tyson has also put in place a host of protective steps that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19. These include symptom screenings for all team members before every shift, providing mandatory protective face masks to all team members, as well as a range of social distancing measures, including physical barriers between workstations and in breakrooms.
"Our team members are essential to helping feed the nation, and their health and safety come first," says Rick Retzlaff, complex manager for Tyson in Storm Lake. "Disclosing our testing results will help better protect our team members and help provide the wider Storm Lake community with the information it needs to stop the spread of the virus."
Tyson Foods has increased short-term disability coverage to 90% of normal pay until June 30 to encourage team members to stay home when they are sick. The company also has doubled its "thank you" bonus for its frontline workers. Team members who cannot come to work because of illness or childcare issues related to COVID-19 will continue to qualify.