Nearly 300 employees at Missouri pork plant test positive for the coronavirus

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Nearly 300 employees at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Of the more than 2,300 employees tested, 295 were found to be positive, up from the 126 cases linked to the pork plant as of Thursday. The state announced the new cases after several hundred employees who were not symptomatic were tested Tuesday.

In a statement to The Star, Triumph Foods said the 295 positive tests were from asymptomatic employees.

“These results are not unexpected, considering the highly contagious nature of the virus and its presence in the greater community,” the statement continued, in part. “We will continue to use this information at Triumph Foods in developing our daily staffing and work plans.”

Triumph Foods said workers who tested positive “are required by public health officials to self-isolate at home, and will receive full pay and benefits while on COVID-19 leave.”

Public health officials have indicated those with negative or pending results can report to work as long as they follow all of the recommended safety guidelines and protocols.

The department, working with the City of St. Joseph Health DepartmentNorthwest Health Services and Mosaic Life Care is offering testing to all employees and contract staff at the plant.

Before this week, 46 employees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a news release from the department.

In an April 17 Facebook post, the company said it had no confirmed cases but added new precautions for employee safety. Employees’ temperatures were taken before entering and they were all given reusable face masks. Plexiglass table dividers were also installed in the cafeteria.

While Triumph Foods has no confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, we continue to increase our efforts to ensure our facility…

Posted by Triumph Foods on Friday, April 17, 2020

Testing for employees who were not showing symptoms began on Monday. Anyone not yet tested can do so through Northwest Health Services’ mobile testing site.

DHSS staff and local public health agencies are helping with case investigations and contact tracing.

“Many thanks to the employees for the important work that they do and for their willingness to be tested and to follow our guide which will prevent further spread of this virus,” Randall Williams, director of DHSS, said in a news release.

Missouri has identified 7,835 cases of the coronavirus and 337 people have died. There are 141 cases and one death in Buchanan County.

Not all of the Triumph Foods cases will be counted in Buchanan County’s total count because some employees live in neighboring counties.

Triumph Foods is located at 5302 Stockyards Expressway in St. Joseph, Missouri. This is a Google Maps view of the plant from 2019. GOOGLE MAPS

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