Workers at West Virginia Poultry Processing Plant to be Tested for Virus

The West Virginia National Guard will assist in conducting tests for the coronavirus starting Monday at a poultry processing plant in a small county where cases have increased, authorities said.

Testing at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant of about 940 workers in Moorefield will occur on every shift, Hardy County sheriff’s office spokesman David Maher said in a news release.

Using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for meat processing plants, employees will be screened for symptoms on a daily basis and between shifts, the statement said.

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

Health officials have not disclosed whether there are any confirmed virus cases at the plant. The number of confirmed cases in the county of about 14,000 residents has increased from three on April 27 to 16 as of Sunday, according to health officials.

Outbreaks have become common at meat processing plants across the United States, infecting thousands of workers, leading to the closure of some plants and prompting meat shortages.

Gov. Jim Justice requested the tests at the Moorefield plant.

“We’re going to do some extensive testing there and try to nip that in the bud and stop it as fast as we possibly can in order to be able to keep that plant moving,” Justice said Friday.

At least 54 people in the state have died from the virus and around 1,360 have tested positive, according to health data.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe illness or death. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in two to three weeks.