Four hundred and twelve employees and contract workers tested positive for COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) said on May 5. None were showing symptoms of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Symptoms include cough, fever, and chills.
Nearly 2,400 workers were tested between April 27 and May 1 as part of the state’s testing strategy, which focuses on testing when an outbreak is present among people living or working closely together.
Workers who test positive were being notified and told to self-isolate for 10 days.
People who came into contact with those who tested positive were also being identified, state officials said.
The testing was done primarily on employees who weren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include chills, fatigue, and fever.
“We appreciate the willingness from employees of Triumph Foods to be tested and the collaboration with local health care providers to help prevent further spread of COVID-19 in this community,” Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS, said in a statement announcing the testing.
A significant percentage of people who contract the illness never show symptoms, and can transmit the virus when asymptomatic, according to federal health officials.
Workers who tested positive will be paid while missing work.
Mark Campbell, CEO of Triumph Foods, thanked employees for undergoing testing.
“The test results will be critical to helping us understand where the coronavirus is in our facilities and communities,” Campbell said in a video message.
“We will continue to deep clean, sanitize, and disinfect our workplace, and ask that all of you practice good preventative measures of social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing a face mask.”
As of May 4, Missouri had 8,887 total confirmed CCP virus cases and 383 deaths from COVID-19. Hundreds of patients remain in hospitals, including about 100 on ventilators.
Meat processing companies have struggled amid the pandemic with outbreaks of the virus, and a number of plants have shut down in recent weeks.
Among approximately 130,000 workers across 19 states, nearly 5,000 cases were confirmed, a government report said last week. Twenty of those patients have died.
Facilities that have remained open or later reopened have adopted a range of measures, including installing outdoor break areas, plexiglass barriers between workers, and adjusted stop and start times of shifts and breaks.
The plant closures led to fears of meat shortages, prompting major retailers to limit purchases of meat.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month compelling meat plants to stay open.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union came out against the order.
“Meatpacking and poultry workers have been working tirelessly through this health crisis so that millions of Americans continue to have access to the food they need. President Trump’s executive order now mandates that they continue to do so, without any language that ensures their safety,” President Marc Perrone said in a statement.
“Let me be clear, the best way to protect America’s food supply, to keep these plants open, is to protect America’s meatpacking workers.”