Tyson Foods has announced a plan to keep its employees at meatpacking plants safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On July 30, the company said plans include administering several thousand coronavirus tests each week across its 140 U.S. production facilities.
Testing will be conducted on random employees who have no symptoms and on those who are exhibiting symptoms. Workers who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive or exhibited symptoms will also be administered a test.
Tyson Food group President and Chief Administrative Officer Donnie King said he hopes this will allow them to get ahead of the virus.
“We believe launching a new, strategic approach to monitoring and adding the health staff to support it will help further our efforts to go on the offensive against the virus,” King wrote in a press release per TODAY Food.
Following a large outbreak at several facilities earlier in the year, the company implemented safety protocols to ensure employee safety including daily health screenings, workstation dividers, face masks and social distance monitors into its facilities.
Back in May, one of meat factories in Iowa shut down after more than 60% (nearly 730 employees) contracted the virus. Two other plants in Iowa had employees that were COVID-positive.
Another plant located in Logansport, Indiana was one of several that voluntarily shut down operations towards the end of April to help prevent the spread of the virus after 40% (or roughly 900 of employees) of the workforce tested positive.
"Today" spoke with Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who said that testing will allow Tyson to “catch cases earlier” and “prevent large outbreaks.”
She emphasized the importance of a contingency plan for those that are infected including pay while they isolate.
A Tyson Foods spokesperson told the outlet that team members who test positive will be covered by short-term disability pay and will only be allowed to return to work upon meeting the criteria established by the CDC and Tyson.