Albertville Wayne Farms employee: COVID-19 procedures not being followed

Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 8:07 PM CDT
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ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Wayne Farms plant in Albertville is self-reporting roughly 80 positive COVID-19 cases and one death.

An employee at the plant said safety procedures to curb the virus have not been followed.

WAFF agreed to protect the identity of the worker over their concerns of retaliation from the plant. The worker was able to prove their employment.

WAFF is being intentionally vague about the details of this workers’ employment to protect their identity.

This is the third employee WAFF 48 News has talked to about COVID-19 at the plant.

[ READ MORE: 75 coronavirus cases, 1 death reported at Wayne Farms in Albertville ]

The employee said the plant recently hired them and they have seen COVID-19 safety procedures not being followed.

“The people that are wearing the mask, they aren’t wearing them correctly, they got them below their nose. Some people ain’t even wearing them, they’re not enforcing it. I went to use the hand sanitizer by the supply room when I came back in the door and it was empty," they said.

“People go out to the stores and go to their cars and come back, there wasn’t nobody there checking.”

They said they would have shut down the plant once the first case was reported.

Wayne Farms self-reported the number of positive cases at the plant to WAFF. On Monday, April 20, it sent WAFF the following list of precautions the plant was taking.

  • Doubling-down on the sanitation program—beyond the regular sanitation process, every area of the plant is getting sanitized and fogged, including breakrooms, hallways and offices
  • Installing infrared temperature sensors to screen all employees/visitors/suppliers before entry
  • Staggering start and break times to help with distancing, and waiving minor tardiness to avoid crowding and close quarters
  • Installing dividers in breakrooms and on the debone line and other areas to provide barriers between employees
  • Providing face coverings/masks free of charge for use throughout plant, in addition to required plastic smocks, hairnets, and gloves
  • Following stringent positive COVID contact protocol—checking all contact points—both work and personal—of employees with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, from work association to rides or carpools and social contacts
  • Asking employees to respect and follow preventative guidance from the CDC—staying home and minimizing social contact, wearing face masks or covers in public, regular handwashing
  • Reporting any positive COVID-19 contacts outside of work-major or minor—rides, social contacts, house guests—any potential transmission point
  • Reporting any flu-like symptoms to occupational health and constantly reminding employees to stay home if sick

In previous reporting, Wayne Farms Spokesman Frank Singleton said the plant is working directly with the Alabama Department of Public Health and has its own medical staff onsite.

He said the company is following all guidelines and procedures to keep its staff safe.

Singleton was not available for an interview on Wednesday.

Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth echoed concerns about the plant Tuesday night, retweeting WAFF’s story and writing “It is unacceptable to maintain business as usual after scores of employees test positive for the Coronavirus in the same workplace.”

He did not respond to an interview request.

Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea said he’s been in contact with the plant leadership.

“These folks are very responsive, they’ve got the the USDA, state health department folks inside, they’ve taken extreme measures," he said.

”We want to work with them and their employees to make our community safe as it possibly can be."

He said the Albertville City Council has not discussed strengthening any local laws to curb the coronavirus.

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