SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Tyson Foods announced Thursday (June 11) the results of a facility-wide testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) at its Berry Street poultry facility in Springdale.
Of the 1,102 team members who work at the facility and were tested onsite between June 4 and June 6, 199 tested positive. Tyson says only one of the employees that tested positive showed symptoms. The other 198 individuals who tested positive did not show any symptoms and otherwise would not have been identified, according to Tyson.
This is in addition to the 48 positive cases identified at the Berry Street facility by the Arkansas Department of Health or when seeking care through their own health care provides.
Employees who test positive receive paid leave during the quarantine period required by the CDC and may return to work only when they have met the criteria established by both the CDC and Tyson.
“As at Berry Street, we are routinely finding high levels of asymptomatic positives when we conduct large-scale testing at our facilities and because of that, we can do a public service by sharing the results with the local community,” said Tom Brower, Senior Vice President of Health and Safety for Tyson Foods. “Conducting large-scale testing and disclosing the results goes a long way toward controlling the spread of the virus.”
Springdale Mayor Dough Sprouse commented on the testing being done at the Berry Street facility.
“Tyson Foods has been part of the fabric of Arkansas since 1935, and we are grateful they have taken the proactive step of conducting testing in the Northwest region and disclosing the results. We are proud to collaborate with Tyson, and their leadership will help us better understand the impact of COVID-19 in our community and how best to protect the residents of Benton and Washington counties," Sprouse said.
The Berry Street facility is among more than 40 production facilities in the United States where Tyson is rolling out advanced testing capabilities to team members in partnership with Matrix Medical.
Tyson is conducting facility-wide testing for COVID-19 at processing facilities and other operations in Benton and Washington Counties, where positive cases of the coronavirus have risen.
Axiom Medical, a health care case management provider, will also track the symptoms of team members who test positive and provide additional care.
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 help provide a reliable food supply for the country, and it’s critical that they feel secure when they come to work,” said Matt Evans, Complex Manager for Tyson at Berry Street. “The health and safety of our team members is our top priority, and testing is among the many actions we are taking to ensure our team members and their families are protected.”
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.
In addition to testing team members, Tyson has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide onsite testing to USDA inspectors assigned to both Tyson and competitor-operated facilities throughout the region. Testing is conducted by the Department of Health, and Tyson does not have access to the results.