Tyson Foods plant closed until Tuesday for deep cleaning following virus outbreak

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In this photo made Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, a Tyson Foods, Inc., truck is parked at a food warehouse in Little Rock, Ark. Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat producer, said Monday, Nov. 23, 2009, it lost money in its fiscal fourth quarter primarily on a hefty goodwill impairment charge.(AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

WILKES COUNTY, N.C. (FOX8) — The Tyson Foods Inc. fresh plant in Wilkesboro will be closed part of Saturday and all of Sunday and Monday for deep cleaning and fogging following an outbreak of COVID-19 among workers there, said Derek Burleson, Tyson public relations manager.

Chicken processing will resume at the plant on Tuesday, Burleson said.

The plant does no typically run on Sunday, so it is normal for it to be closed that day.

The Wilkes County Health Department screened 200 employees who work at the Tyson Foods Processing Plant, a place that employs more than a thousand people in Wilkesboro.

The health department said the plant is linked to most of the county’s coronavirus cases, which now stands at 127.

Tyson Foods, along with the health department, hopes these screenings can slow down the number of people getting infected.

“The health department has been in the facility. They’re helping and showing them what they need to do,” said Eddie Settle, Wilkes County commission chair.

This outbreak doesn’t just affect people working in Wilkesboro.

“Tyson has people — they bring van loads in from Forsyth some from Guilford,” Settle said.

Wilkes County officials said they are not disclosing the total number of Tyson employees infected by the virus right now.

“The people are being quarantined at home. We have only five cases in the hospital and 40 have recovered,” Settle said.

Settle said this isn’t the only facility in Wilkesboro being attacked by COVID-19.

“We have an outbreak at the Wilkes Health and Rehabilitation Center,” he said.

He said there are three residents and one employee who tested positive for the virus and they’re working on screenings there as well.

County officials do anticipate the number of COVID cases to increase over the next few weeks because of the increase in testing.

The county is also releasing information to the public everyday.

“Let everyone know how many cases we have and the zip codes of where they live,” Settle said.

Corporate leaders at Tyson Foods also said they’ll be supplying a mobile health clinic at the plant on Wednesday.

It will be used to do additional testing and give staff members access to a nurse practitioner regarding their health concerns.

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