Multiple employees test positive for COVID-19 at New Market Poultry

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NEW MARKET, Va. (WHSV) — On Wednesday morning, the parent company of New Market Poultry Products, Tip Top Poultry, confirmed to WHSV that multiple employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

More than 100 employees work at the New Market facility on a daily basis.

Brad Respess, CEO and President of the company, said they are working with the Virginia Department of Health to trace everyone who was in close contact with the employees and limit any future spread.

He does not believe the virus was transmitted at the poultry plant.

He said with the work they've done with VDH so far, they believe the employees may have contracted it from a family member or from being out in the community.

Those employees were asked to not return to work and Respess said the company has set up COVID-19 paid sick leave for affected employees.

Respess said they want those employees to get better and don't want them to bring it back to the plant.

He said they are checking every employee for symptoms of the coronavirus daily and are following guidelines the Virginia Poultry Federation has put out.

The guidelines include increased hand washing, requiring the use of a face mask or shield, increasing sanitation of the facility, and practicing social distancing.

This past Sunday, the CDC issued new guidance for meat processing facilities, establishing a national standard for them to follow.

In Governor Ralph Northam's briefing on Monday, he addressed the situation at meat processing facilities, including Virginia's poultry plants, saying the CDC is deploying teams to work with local health departments on the situation as well.

Earlier this week, Cargill confirmed to WHSV that an employee of their Dayton plant had died of COVID-19 and outlined the procedures they say they're following.

At New Market Poultry, more than 100 employees work on a daily basis.

As of April 29, the Lord Fairfax Health District, which covers New Market, had 11 confirmed outbreaks, with 3 in long-term care facilities, 3 in healthcare settings, and 5 in congregate settings.

Congregate settings include workplaces, as well as places like apartment complexes, gyms, and churches. The Virginia Department of Health defines an outbreak as two or more confirmed cases in a single area in which the virus was spread from one person to another.

The latest Virginia Department of Health numbers reported 95 total cases of COVID-19 in Shenandoah County.