Tyson beef plant in Wallula reopens after 12 day closure

WALLULA, Wash. -- A Tyson Fresh Meats beef plant in eastern Washington state has reopened with limited production of beef, after closing 12 days ago to test workers for the new coronavirus.

Tyson said Tuesday that nearly 12% of workers tested had COVID-19, not counting 38 pending test results.

The Tri-City Herald reported there have been 147 positive test results out of 1,239 returned so far, plus at least 104 workers diagnosed with COVID-19 before testing began.

The plant, located near Pasco, Washington, has more than 1,400 workers.

Two workers who live in the Tri-Cities have died of complications of COVID-19, according to the Benton Franklin Health District.

Friends of Tyson Workers, a group formed after the outbreak at the plant began in March, blasted Tyson’s decision to reopen.

“Would you feel safe sending your own loved ones there?” said the group in a statement. “Until the answer to that question is yes, there’s still more work to do.”

Tyson said in a joint statement with the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health that while the plant was idle a deep cleaning and sanitization was done.

Face masks are provided and required for all workers. Face shields are required for workers if plexiglass shields or other barriers cannot be installed to separate their work station from other workers.

Infrared thermometers are being used to check temperatures before workers enter the plant. Workers are screened for symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath.