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National Guard arriving to help test all Pilgrim's Pride workers in Moorefield

Cooper said the number of poultry houses in Rockingham County is continuing to grow.
Cooper said the number of poultry houses in Rockingham County is continuing to grow.(WHSV)
Published: May. 8, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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The West Virginia National Guard is headed to Moorefield to help test poultry workers for COVID-19.

Across the country, and especially in Virginia, on the Eastern Shore and in the Shenandoah Valley, meat processing facilities, and poultry plants specifically, have been frequent sites of coronavirus outbreaks, with workers in close quarters at the sites.

On Friday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice declared the Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing plant in Moorefield as a site that requires screening and testing of all plant workers for COVID-19.

To accomplish that, at the request of Gov. Justice, the West Virginia health department, and the Hardy County Health Department, the West Virginia National Guard will be arriving at the plant to operate in a medical support role to test the large number of employees there.

The National Guard will also help Hardy County Health Department officials with contact tracing for anyone with a confirmed case and with recommendations for self-isolation for affected employees.

Employees at Pilgrim's Pride in Moorefield will be screened for symptoms on a daily basis and between shifts, per CDC guidelines for meat processing plants.

"We are all working together to ensure the safety of our community and for continuity of the food processing system," said a statement from the Hardy County Sheriff's Office.

"We appreciate the ongoing cooperation of Pilgrim's Pride and the many folks in our community that work in the processing plant. We have a shared goal of keeping everyone healthy and ensuring the ongoing safe operation of our food processing facilities," said William Ours, administrator of the Hardy County Health Department.

In Virginia, teams from the CDC have deployed to several poultry plants on the Eastern Shore to provide testing.

How much testing has been conducted at plants in the Shenandoah Valley is unclear, as is how many cases have been detected at them, because Virginia code prevents facilities being named as outbreak sites unless they agree to the release of their information.

has confirmed that multiple employees there have tested positive, though managers said they don't believe the virus was transmitted at the poultry plant.

Earlier in the pandemic,

amid the pandemic, and protests on behalf of poultry workers have happened at a variety of facilities over the past month.

For more information about the guidelines that will be followed for testing in Moorefield, you can see them on the CDC website

.

As of 5 p.m. on May 8, Hardy County had 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Cases in the county steadily rose from six cases a week before.

A request for comment from Pilgrim's Pride was not immediately returned by Friday night.