Wednesday morning, Tyson Foods officials confirmed that employees at the Sherman facility have tested positive for the coronavirus. While media relations representatives would not confirm the number of cases at the plant, they did say it was a small number.


This comes less than 24 hours after Grayson County confirmed five new COVID-19 cases in Sherman, pushing the county beyond 50 confirmed cases of the virus.


In a statement released to local media outlets, the company said, “As a result of COVID-19 testing by Grayson County Health Department officials, a small number of community members employed by Tyson Foods have tested positive for COVID-19. Because of the ever-changing nature of the situation, we are not sharing specific numbers. As part of our CDC-based protocol, a team member who tests positive remains on leave until they’re released by health officials to return to work. We also affirmatively notify anyone who has been in close contact with the positive team member.”


The statement went on to say that the health and well-beings of the employees is a top priority for the company and there are measures being taken at the plant to protect team members.


"This includes:


Taking worker temperatures and installing an infrared walk through temperature scanner in the facility.


Requiring and supplying facial protection.


Providing widespread hand sanitizer stations,“ the statement said. ”Implementing social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers, breakroom dividers, and staggering start times and break times to avoid large gatherings as team members enter the facility and take breaks.“


The facility will also have additional deep cleanings and the facility and vehicles would be sanitized.


"We’re also relaxing our attendance policy to encourage workers to stay at home when they're sick and eliminating the waiting period for eligibility on short-term disability benefits,“ the statement concluded. ”We are also working to expand on-site access to healthcare and testing to our team members through our new partnership with Matrix Medical Network – a leading provider of mobile health clinics, with advanced diagnostic capabilities and enhanced care options.“


This comes as states across the nation continue to reopen while continuing social distancing guidelines.


USA Today reported that at least 38 meat packaging plants have ceased operations since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.


In a report released Tuesday, the media giant said, “The meat slaughtering and processing industry is among the hardest hit by the pandemic. At least 167 plants have had outbreaks, sickening at least 9,400 people, primarily workers. At least 45 workers have died, according to the media outlets’ tracking.”


Wednesday afternoon, the Herald Democrat will sit down with Tyson Foods Vice President Mark Gordon and Sherman Complex Manager William McKeeman. Read about what the representatives with the company plan to do to protect its employees in a special report to appear in the Friday edition of the Herald Democrat.