Over the next several weeks, we will be disclosing verified COVID-19 test results with various health and government officials and team members in several communities where we live and work.
We believe it is our obligation as part of the communities in which we operate to release this information. As we learn more about this virus, we want to be open and transparent with our team members and the community so that they understand the protective measures that can be taken to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
We are prioritizing testing in communities with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 and will assess additional needs based on clinically significant risk factors, CDC guidance and access to testing. Team members who test positive receive paid leave and may return to work only when they have met the criteria established by both the CDC and Tyson.
This week, we shared test results from our poultry plant in Portland, Maine and our pork plant in Madison, Nebraska. Portland is among an initial group of more than 30 production facilities where we are rolling out advanced on-site testing capabilities and enhanced care options in partnership with Matrix Medical, a leading medical clinical services company, and other partners. In Madison, we worked closely with local health officials to provide tests to our team members.
Team members at these and other facilities will have access to daily clinical symptom screenings, nurse practitioners and enhanced education. These programs are in addition to a host of protective steps Tyson has put in place that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19. These include temperature checks for all team members before every shift, providing mandatory protective face masks to all team members, and a range of social distancing measures including physical barriers between workstations and in break rooms.
What’s just as important as releasing the numbers is understanding what they mean. Comparing a widely tested population, such as our team members at a select plant, with a much lower level of testing in the broader community is not apples to apples. We’re finding that many positive cases in our plants come from team members who didn’t show symptoms. In most communities, those individuals aren’t tested, as tests are reserved for those who exhibit symptoms and are seeking medical care.
It’s also important to note that testing at plants does not provide insight into how a person may have become infected, how widely the community may be infected or how the virus is spreading – that’s why partnering with local health officials is so important for us and the community.
We are thankful for our partners in local health and government who have worked with us to protect the people who live and work in our communities. Most of all, we want to thank our frontline team members for the work they’re doing and the commitment they’re showing as we manage through these uncertain and unprecedented times together.