In spite of ongoing fears from the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic, business is carrying on as normal for many Texoma industries. Area economic developers said this week that many of the regions industries and manufacturers remain open during the ongoing health emergency.


Representatives with the Sherman Economic Development Corp. and Denison Development Alliance said most of the industries they work with are reporting that they are still in production, with many falling under “essential business.”


“I spoke with many of our local industries yesterday. Nearly all of the ones I visited with report they are currently in good condition,” SEDCO President Kent Sharp said. “Granted, each day is a new day with this COVID-19.”


While no mandatory quarantine or shelter in place orders have been given for Grayson County or the state of Texas, it remains a common fear for many businesses, Sharp said.


In the event of a shelter-in-place order, exemptions could be given for certain situations. In one scenario, manufacturing workers could be exempt. In another, workers for only certain industries that are deemed essential could be exempted, Sharp said.


“However, for the near term, I fully expect our industries to maintain production with limited local interruption, or interruption from local or state leaders,” Sharp said.


DDA President Tony Kaai said many of the industries he work with believe they would fall under essential services, and would not be required to close during an order.


While the list of essential services has varied slightly from county to county in areas that have issued lock-down orders, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency lists some manufacturing as an essential service. Among these services are businesses related to agriculture and food, chemical manufacturing, transportation, communication and energy, among others.


“Additionally, workers needed to maintain the continuity of these manufacturing functions and associated supply chains (would be exempt),” CISA said on it’s website.


Among the facilities that is staying open during the current scare is Denison’s Ruiz Foods. Representatives for the company said that the plant serves an essential function during the current crisis as it produces food.


However, employees that can work remotely have been asked to do so, company representatives said.


“Food companies like ours play an important role to ensure a safe food supply for the public,” said Mitch Martin, Ruiz Foods Denison director of operations. “Attendance has not decreased in our Denison manufacturing facility, and, in fact, I am proud to say that a number of our team members have expressed how pleased they are to be a part of the country’s workers who are helping make the food needed to restock grocery stores. “


Martin added that no cases of COVID-19 have been reported at any of the company’s facilities.


Like Ruiz, Sherman’s Tyson plant also remains in operating during the ongoing crisis and is reporting no interruptions to its production.


“Our teams are working hard to ensure our beef and pork facilities continue to operate at or very near normal production rates,” said Steve Stouffer, Tyson group president of fresh meats, in a blog post on the company’s website. “We continue to provide updated education to all our team members on ways to practice social distancing, good hygiene, the importance of handwashing, avoiding travel, and large social gatherings to minimize exposure and slow the progression of the COVID virus.


“In addition, we have implemented a strict policy on visitors to our offices and facilities, which requires pre-screening and restricts access only to those considered essential for business purposes.” Steve Stouffer, Tyson group president of fresh meats


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.