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Employees at Tyson plant near Tri-Cities return to work after COVID-19 testing

The meat plant in eastern Washington temporarily closed on April 23 to test all employees for coronavirus.

WALLA WALLA COUNTY, Wash. — Employees at a Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Walla Walla County are returning to work on Tuesday for limited production after operations were temporarily halted for coronavirus testing, according to KEPR-TV.

The plant in Wallula temporarily closed on April 23 to test all employees for coronavirus.

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

More than 1,400 people work at the plant, according to Tyson, which also said the facility produces enough beef in one day to feed four million people.

Workers were paid during the closure and the company also asked employees to self-isolate at home as they awaited test results.

Tyson has also seen coronavirus outbreaks at other plant locations around the country. 

RELATED: Meatpackers cautiously reopen plants amid coronavirus fears

KEPR-TV reports that employees returning to work on Tuesday will begin their shift with a facility tour.

Other precautions have been put in place, including temperature checks, supplying of protective face coverings, required use of face shields for employees where workstation barriers can't be implemented, and wellness checks to screen for coronavirus symptoms. 

Officials with Tyson say they have also partnered with Matrix Medical Network to provide a mobile health clinic at the facility, KEPR-TV reports..

The company has also doubled the amount of its "thank you" bonuses for frontline workers who can not work because of illness or child care issues related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Leaders with the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health previously said they had been engaged with local and corporate Tyson teams since April 6, 2020, when they met with the company to discuss current coronavirus cases and mitigation measures, according to KEPR.

Tyson was required to implement measures outlined in a plan by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries by Monday, April 20.

Julia Thatcher and Thomas Yazwinski with KEPR-TV contributed to this report. 

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