WILKESBORO, N.C. (WBTV) – The fresh market division of the Tyson Chicken Processing plant in Wilkesboro has been shut down until Tuesday because of an outbreak of COVID-19.

Company officials tell WBTV News that the pause is needed for cleaning and sanitizing after dozens of workers have tested positive for the virus.

About 2,200 people work in the fresh market plant with about 800 more working in other areas at the Tyson complex.

Up to 200 workers were tested by the health department on Monday and 39 results were positive.

All of the remaining workers were tested by a private firm this week but results aren’t back yet.

Officials say the health and safety of workers is a priority.

The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence that the virus can be passed by food.

Plant officials say that anyone feeling sick should not come to work and all employees coming into work are screened with thermometers and an infrared walk through thermal imaging system.

Masks are required on the property, and anyone testing positive is required to stay home and will be paid through disability at 90 percent for the duration.

County health officials have also said that some cases in other counties have been traced back to the plant because a good portion of the work force comes from other counties.

COVID-19 numbers are based on where you live, not where you work.

The Tyson plant is one of the largest chicken processing plants in the nation. They supply to retail (grocery) and to restaurants and institutional food services to schools, venues and contract food services.

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