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The medical clinics, which will be operated by the Matrix Medical Network, will first be sent to plants in Illinois, Iowa and Washington, as well as “several other locations to be determined,” Tyson Foods wrote in a media release. Additional clinics will be sent to more facilities “as needed.”
Tyson’s announcement comes after several of the company’s plants in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, and Washington reported outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers, raising concerns for the well-being of its employees, as well as the security of our nation’s food supply.
One outbreak at a plant in Logansport, Ind., has so far infected nearly 900 of the facility’s 2,200 employees to date. As of last week, four Tyson Foods employees working in U.S. plants were reported to have died of coronavirus, as well.
“Tyson is committed to implementing all possible measures to protect our team members,” said Hector Gonzalez, Tyson Foods’ senior vice president of human resources, in a media release. “We want to reopen our previously idled facilities, but also want to instill confidence in our workers and reassure them that we care deeply about their individual health needs. Our partnership with Matrix Medical Network will allow us to take additional precautions to help keep our employees safe.”
Services provided by the mobile clinics will include diagnostic testing for COVID-19, daily on-site screenings, on-site nurse practitioner care, and educational and support resources for employees. The Matrix Medical Network will also be assisting with the “environmental design of Tyson facilities to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread,” per the release.
These measures will supplement Tyson Foods’ current precautionary measures, which include temperature screenings, new social-distancing protocols, installing dividers, requiring facial protection, and encouraging workers to stay home if exhibiting symptoms.
The shutdowns of Tyson’s facilities — as well as those of meat-processing plants operated by Smithfield and JBS, among others — had prompted Tyson Foods Chairman John H. Tyson to take out a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times, Washington Post and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, to outline the company’s response to the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. He also stated that further closures would put more stress on the nation’s food supply.
“The food supply chain is breaking,” Tyson warned earlier this week.
In the following days, financial analysts and industry insiders claimed that consumers could be seeing less selection in their supermarket meat aisles as early as next week.