George’s: 3 Plants Have Had at Least 1 Case of COVID-19

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Privately held poultry producer George’s Inc. of Springdale said Tuesday that three of its plants have had at least on one confirmed case of COVID-19.

The company has eight plants across Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia. In Arkansas, it has plants in Springdale, Rogers and Batesville. It did not say where the infections occurred.

“At each of the affected plants, we immediately implemented our COVID-19 response plan actions, making sure that all health, safety, and sanitation measures were implemented, including deep cleaning procedures and notification of any coworkers who had possible close contact with these individuals,” the company said in a news release. “Our approach, and the practices we have adopted, follow the guidance issued by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and utilize the hierarchy of controls.”

Like other meat producers, George’s said it had implemented a range of updates to keep employees safe while maintaining operations. Those include employee temperature checks; mandated used of face coverings; partitions in break rooms and between workstations; and new systems to ensure increased ventilation in its facilities.

“Our team is closely overseeing all aspects of our strategies, and we are collaborating with our business partners across industries to prepare for all scenarios that may unfold,” the company said in a statement. “We will not compromise our safety, health, nor environmental values for profit or production.”

The George’s statement came the same day President Trump announced he would sign an executive order meant to stave off a shortage of chicken, pork and other meat on American supermarket shelves because of the coronavirus.

The order would use the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure to keep production plants open. It comes after industry leaders, including Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale Chairman John Tyson, warned that consumers could see meat shortages in a matter of days after workers at major facilities tested positive for the virus.

George’s ranked No. 6 on Arkansas Business’ most recent list of the state’s private companies, with $1.5 billion in 2018 revenue. It has about 7,100 employees, including 4,200 in Arkansas.