(Tyson Foods is partnering with Matrix Medical, a leading medical clinical services company, to roll out advanced testing capabilities and enhanced care options at select production facilities)
I know firsthand the fear and anxiety that COVID-19 can cause individuals and communities. While working clinically in the emergency department, I treated one of the first virus cases in Illinois. I was exposed and ultimately contracted COVID-19, as did my wife and son. This was before we understood as much about the virus and how to prevent its spread as we do today.
I believe that testing for COVID-19 is one of many steps we can take to prevent spread. Knowing who has the virus means those who are sick can be quickly quarantined and those who are healthy can come safely to work.
As more businesses across the country reopen and more people return to work, organizations, including Tyson Foods, are leading the way by conducting large-scale testing in communities with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 to protect their team members and mitigate the spread of the virus.
As the chief medical officer of Matrix Medical, I have been working closely with Tyson Foods to conduct large-scale testing at a number of production facilities. We also provide team members at select sites with access to daily clinical screenings, nurse practitioners and enhanced education.
I’m proud that Tyson has made the decision to disclose verified test results in communities where it is conducting large-scale testing. They have reported results to impacted team members and have worked closely with local health departments to help them understand the impact COVID-19 is having in their communities. In many of these towns and cities, testing has shown high levels of positive cases among asymptomatic individuals who otherwise would not have been identified, demonstrating that companies like Tyson are doing a public service by sharing test results with the local community.
Navigating Complexities Around Testing
It’s no secret that testing availability continues to be an issue across the United States. As of June 8, the COVID Tracking Project estimates more than 20.6 million people across the nation have been tested. A combination of public and private labs are performing more than 300,000 tests per day. While this is good progress, and testing availability continues to improve, testing in some areas continues to be limited, and criteria for testing may vary between states and local health departments.
Apart from testing availability, it’s important to understand that while the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the central reporting source for confirmed COVID-19 cases, multiple groups are providing data, including local health departments, private companies and various health care providers. Therefore, numbers aren’t always consistent. While the various testing entities across the country are working diligently to provide as accurate numbers as possible, infection rates can sometimes be incomplete.
A Safe Work Environment
As important as testing is, it is only one part of keeping our workplaces and communities safe, and we must go beyond testing to help mitigate virus spread. I believe Tyson is truly at the forefront of employee safety in the age of COVID-19.
Tyson has put in place a host of protective steps that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19. These include symptom screenings for all team members before every shift, providing mandatory protective face masks to all team members, as well as a range of social distancing measures, including physical barriers between workstations and in break rooms.
I’m committed to working with companies like Tyson Foods to lead the way in supporting team members with the most up-to-date information and resources to take care of their health. I know that by working together we can mitigate the spread of the virus and keep our communities safe.