Tyson Foods announced on March 6 that more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 involving team members were declared at its Columbus Junction facility, which produces pork. The livestock supply originally scheduled for delivery to Columbus Junction has been diverted to other pork plants in the region. Employees at meat plants often work standing side-by-side on processing lines.

Noel White, CEO, Tyson Foods, said the company has been taking the temperature of workers at all of its locations before they enter company facilities, with infrared temperature scanners being implemented in some sites. “In addition, we’ve stepped up deep cleaning and sanitising of our facilities, especially in employee breakrooms, locker rooms and other areas, to protect our team members. This additional cleaning sometimes requires suspending at least one day of production”, said White, adding that the company continues to explore and implement ways to promote more social distancing in its plants, including erecting dividers between workstations or increasing the space between workers on the production floor, which can result in slower production lines.

According to White, its meat and poultry plants are experiencing varying levels of production impact, due to the planned implementation of additional worker safety precautions and worker absenteeism. He said the decision to suspend operations at the Columbus Junction facility was “out of an abundance of caution”.