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The original item was published from 8/12/2020 3:12:44 PM to 8/12/2020 3:13:56 PM.

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Health Department

Posted on: August 12, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Wilkes County Health Department Closes Tyson Meat Processing Plant COVID-19 Outbreak

The Wilkes County Health Department is reporting that as of today, August 12th, the Tyson Foods, Inc. COVID-19 cluster can be closed.

As a reminder, a cluster is defined as minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period, AND plausible linkage between cases. An outbreak of COVID-19 in a congregate living settings, is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases within a 28-day period. This is based on CDC guidance for influenza outbreaks in long-term care facilities and is appropriate for settings where (a) the likelihood of exposure having occurred at the facility is high and (b) rapid implementation of specific interventions is needed to reduce morbidity and mortality. While a cluster is for occupational, educational, meat processing plants, and other community settings.

In order for the Wilkes County Health Department to be able to close out the meat processing plant cluster, Tyson Foods has completed two 14 day incubation periods, or 28 days with no new cases. During the course of this outbreak Tyson Foods had 612 positive cases since April.

“Tyson Foods team has been wonderful to work with. Since April we have been able to work together to slow the spread to the virus and implement changes across the plant and complex. Tyson Foods continues to work hard to ensure the health and safety of their team members and community”, stated Rachel Willard, Health Director, Wilkes County Health Department.

As of this afternoon Wilkes County has 854 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 711 recoveries, and 5 currently hospitalized. As of August 12th, NC DHHS is reporting 137,895 cases, 1,122 hospitalizations, and 2,202 deaths related to COVID-19. 

Wilkes Health also wants to remind the public that community transmission is happening in Wilkes County. Every person is a potential carrier, even if no symptoms are present, so it’s urgent that every person -sick or healthy- stay home to the fullest extent possible and help break the chain of transmission. Wilkes Health wants to continue to encourage people to protect themselves to help lessen the spread of COVID-19 in our community. There are many ways we can all protect ourselves and our communities.

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, we would recommend you be tested. This means if you are sick with a fever, cough or other mild symptoms, call your healthcare provider or Wilkes Health. Please do not just show up to a doctor’s office without calling first. This will help your provider prepare should you need to be tested and lessen the potential exposure to others.

If you have a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately.

If you go out you should practice the three W’s: Wear, Wait, and Wash.

Wear a face covering,

Wait 6 feet apart from other people.

Wash your hands often and

How to Protect Yourself

Practice social distancing which means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, keeping 6 feet or more between you and others and remaining at home to the greatest extent possible

Frequent hand washing

Cover your cough or sneeze

Keep distance from others who are sick

Avoid touching your face

Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, lightswitches, tables and handles

Wear cloth mask or face covering when out in public where you may be around people like grocery stores or pharmacies.

COVID-19 Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of reported symptoms.



Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing


Repeated shaking with chills

Muscle pain


Sore throat

New loss of taste or smell

People at high risk include anyone who:

Is 65 years of age or older

Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility

Have a high-risk condition that includes:

Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma

Heart disease with complications

Compromised immune system

Severe obesity – body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher

Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

People who are at high risk should stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.


Additional Resources: 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at

North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at To view the case count for North Carolina, including a county map, please visit the NC DHHS website here.


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