SILER CITY — A Mountaire Farms spokesman confirmed Wednesday that three employees at the chicken processing company's Siler City plant had tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.
“We posted that we’ve had three so far," said Mark Reif, community relations manager for Mountaire. "We’re not trying to keep it a secret or anything like that. With that many employees working together, we’re bound to have a few cases. Once we do learn of someone, we do contact the people that are in close proximity to that person and let them know.”
A post to the Caremongering Pittsboro Facebook page on Wednesday morning showed what appeared to be a posted notice to Mountaire employees. The notice said three employees on the day shift at the Siler City plant had tested positive.
"We've enacted our COVID-19 Action Plan and are taking all necessary precautions to protect our workforce," the notice stated. "Our facility has been thoroughly cleansed and disinfected, and we have redoubled our efforts to clean common areas such as cafeterias and bathrooms to protect our workforce."
Reif said the company has set up a task force that meets three times a week to take actions regarding COVID-19 and Mountaire's operations. Among the measures Mountaire has taken, he said, are placing plexiglass dividers between workers on the production line and in cafeterias, taking employees' temperatures before they enter work, requiring employees to wear masks and offering face shields and doubled or tripled cleaning efforts.
Additionally, Reif said, the company has relaxed its attendance policy and those who test positive for COVID-19 will not lose their jobs.
The Siler City plant has around 1,580 employees, making it one of the largest employers in Chatham County.
"We have really, of course, taken this seriously," Reif said. "We’re so grateful for (our employees) to continue working as an essential employee in an essential business. To date I think our efforts are having an impact.
“We’re doing everything we know to be the right thing.”
Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.