Coronavirus concerns close Tyson beef plant in Washington

Meat producer closes second plant this week over COVID-19 pandemic

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Tyson Foods said it was temporarily halting production at another of its meat plants Thursday due to the coronavirus.

The company said it was working with health officials in three surrounding counties to test 1,400 employees from its Pasco, Washington, plant for COVID-19. The employees are being asked to self-isolate in the meantime and will continue to be paid during the closure.

Tyson couldn’t immediately say how long the plant will remain shuttered. Reopening will depend on the outcome of the testing.

Workers process beef at a Tyson plant. (Tyson Foods)

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“We’ve taken both of our responsibilities to continue feeding the nation and keeping our team members safe and healthy seriously,” Steve Stouffer, Tyson Fresh Meats group president, said in a written statement.

When the plant does reopen, the company said it would continue taking workers' temperatures, requiring the use of face coverings and would further educate workers on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on preventing the spread of the virus.

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The Pasco Tyson Fresh Meats facility produces enough beef in a day to feed 4 million people, according to the company.

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The Washington plant closure came just a day after Tyson also closed its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant, where two employees have died from the virus. Two Tyson employees in Georgia also reportedly died from COVID-19, and there have been reports of infected employees at other Tyson plants.

A Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Waterloo, Iowa. (Jeff Reinitz/The Courier via AP)

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“We’re working with local health officials to bring the plant back to full operation as soon as we believe it to be safe,” Stouffer said. “Unfortunately, the closure will mean reduced food supplies and presents problems to farmers who have no place to take their livestock. It’s a complicated situation across the supply chain.”

Tyson isn’t the only meat processor to have to shutter facilities. Smithfield Foods closed its South Dakota plant after hundreds of employees tested positive for COVID-19.

FOX Business' Cortney Moore contributed reporting.

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