Note: On Wednesday, April 22, Wayne Farms confirmed the number of cases of COVID-19 increased from the previously reported number of 75 cases to 80.
After reporting just two cases of the novel coronavirus two weeks ago, Wayne Farms in Albertville has confirmed 80 of its employees have tested positive and one has died from COVID-19.
“That’s a moving number,” Wayne Farms spokesman Frank Singleton said of the confirmed cases. “Those numbers could change everyday.”
Singleton confirmed that in addition to the employees with positive tests, 250 others were either sent home to self-quarantine after exhibiting symptoms or contacting someone who had or have taken a voluntary leave of absence to avoid any risk of catching the virus at the plant.
Regarding the one fatality, Singleton said the employee was sent home April 9 after he self-reported symptoms. He died on April 18, just one day after testing positive for the coronavirus, Singleton said.
Due to the decrease in employees, Singleton said the chicken processing plant has slowed production but has no plans to shutdown at this time.
“Less than 10% of the employee workforce has been determined to have a positive [COVID-19] outcome,” he said. “So … our plan is to run on a more limited schedule right now.”
Singleton said the lower number of employees has allowed the plant to social distance even further and place dividers between stations.
He said the plant is continuing to follow all of the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to help prevent further spread of the virus including providing masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment for employees, checking temperatures, setting up hand wash sanitizing stations and having the onsite occupational health staff monitor employees.