Wayne Farms in Decatur testing workers after one confirmed COVID-19 case

Wayne Farms' Decatur plant sees its first COVID-19 case.
Wayne Farms' Decatur plant sees its first COVID-19 case.(waff)
Updated: May. 21, 2020 at 8:28 AM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Several employees at Wayne Farms in Decatur are undergoing coronavirus testing after a coworker tested positive this week. That’s according to our news partners at the Decatur Daily.

It’s the first confirmed case at the plant. Across the country, and here in north Alabama, large outbreaks of the virus have been popping up in meat processing plants. This has led to a kink the the supply chain giving consumers higher prices and lower selection.

Wayne Farms’ sister plant in Albertville confirmed 80 cases leading to at least one death in April.

“I can confirm that we do have a positive at our Decatur processing plant,” Wayne Farms spokesman Frank Singleton said Wednesday. “That number could change because testing is still going on and there’s a period of time it takes to get the tests turned around. We’ve got 15 negative test results through contact tracing.” Singleton said all workers who have been in direct contact with that employee were sent home. “If you test positive then you’re quarantined for 14 days and you have to get a certification from a health care provider that you’re free of COVID-19 before you come back,” Singleton said.

Judy Smith, the administrator of the Alabama Department of Public Health’s northern district, pointed out that infected employees at processing plants were not necessarily exposed at the workplace. “There’s three parts to everybody’s life: their work life, their home life and their activity life. Where did this person become exposed? It could have been anywhere. That’s why everybody needs to be on alert,” Smith said. She said Wayne Farms and other poultry plants have taken significant steps to avoid contagion among their employees.

“All employees as they enter the plant have their temperature taken with an infrared sensor,” Singleton said. “We have occupational health and safety folks on the floor who are looking for flu-like symptoms. If employees feel like they’re having flu-like symptoms, they can report that to the occupational health and safety folks who can then have them tested to determine if they have an actual case of COVID.” There are also new plastic dividers up, mask requirements and break room changes to spread people apart.

Learn more in today’s edition of the Decatur Daily.

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