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Tyson Foods Says 570 Plant Workers Test Positive in North Carolina

Tyson Foods says 570, or more than a quarter, of the workers at its Wilkesboro, N.C., facility have tested positive for coronavirus.
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Tyson Foods  (TSN)  shares eased after the world's second-biggest chicken, beef and pork producer said more than a quarter of the workers at its Wilkesboro, N.C., poultry facility tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Springdale, Ark., meat producer said all 2,244 employees and contractors at the site have been tested and 570 of them tested positive for the disease.

“We are working closely with local health departments to protect our team members and their familie, and to help manage the spread of the virus in our communities,” Tom Brower, senior vice president of health and safety for Tyson Foods, said in a statement. 

“We are using the most up-to-date data and resources to support our team members, and we are committed to ensuring they feel safe and secure when they come to work.”

Most of the 570 did not show any symptoms and “would not have been identified” if it weren’t for the facilitywide test, the company said. More than 2,000 were tested between May 6 and 9.

Tyson had temporarily closed the Wilkesboro poultry plant for cleaning and sanitizing in response to an outbreak in early May. 

Production has begun to ramp up at the facility, the company said. Operations were limited on May 14 to carry out additional deep cleaning.

Employees may return to work only when they have met the criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by Tyson, the company said.

In April, Tyson closed its beef facility in Pasco, Wash., while employees were tested for coronavirus.

The company also suspended operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant in April. Tyson said it resumed operations at the plant on May 7.

Earlier this month Tyson Foods posted weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings and warned that lower productivity, as well as higher costs, would continue to hit the bottom line. 

At last Tyson Foods shares were trading off 1.1% at $60.01.