Due to the quickly evolving public health situation around COVID-19 and inaccurate media reports about our industry and Wayne Farms specifically, we would like to take this opportunity to clarify Wayne Farms’ role as an essential business and our focused actions around the:
- SAFETY AND WELLBEING of our team members;
- ACTIONS TAKEN TO QUICKLY IDENTIFY AND CONTAIN positive COVID-19 cases to reduce the risk of spread among our team members;
- CONTINUED SUPPLY of wholesome, nutritious chicken products for our customers and consumers;
- SIGNIFICANT MEASURES TAKEN TO PROTECT our farmer partners.
SAFETY AND WELLBEING OF OUR TEAM MEMBERS
The safety and wellbeing of our team members is our primary responsibility during this time. Their health and ability to help us produce chicken is critical in order to meet the important needs of the nation, especially during this challenging time. We are continuing to work under the guidance of both national and local health professionals to help us educate and protect our team members, and those throughout our supply chain. Examples include:
- Ongoing communication with our team members, farmer partners, suppliers and customers.
- Daily infrared temperature checks of all team members and essential visitors.
- Entry refusal and monitoring for those with elevated temperatures or displaying symptoms.
- No unessential visitors allowed.
- The installation of 1,300+ protective work station dividers in areas where social distancing is difficult.
- Intensive training on protective, personal equipment, personal hygiene, and how to identify and act upon symptoms of respiratory issues or illness.
- As usual, all our food production employees continue to wear hair and beard nets, full arm and torso covering smocks, and gloves.
- On-site occupational health professionals present, at all facilities, to perform ongoing health assessments to quickly identify those displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
- Encouraging team members to wear face coverings; providing masks/face coverings to employees free of charge; continuing efforts to source sufficient supply of masks to provide to every employee at every facility for the upcoming months, free of charge.
ACTIONS TAKEN TO QUICKLY IDENTIFY AND CONTAIN POSITIVE COVID-19 CASES
Onsite occupational health professionals and our own team members are the first and best lines of defense in helping us quickly identify and contain COVID-19. Monitoring team member health and referring those with fever or other symptoms to healthcare for testing or monitoring is the first step.
- Team members testing positive for COVID-19 are immediately placed on paid medical leave until they receive medical clearance to return to work in accordance with CDC guidance.
- Occupational health professionals perform a detailed analysis of infected team member work records and conduct interviews to determine other team members who may have been exposed at the workplace in accordance with guidance from local health authorities.
- Employees in direct contact with those testing positive are removed from the workplace on paid medical leave during any CDC required quarantine period and are monitored.
CONTINUED SUPPLY OF CHICKEN PRODUCTS
Wayne Farms has been designated an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce by the President and Department of Homeland Security, and we take this role seriously. We have successfully taken necessary steps to ensure the continued supply of chicken products, at current levels, to the customers and consumers who depend on us. In the past 30 days, we’ve focused to minimize the potential, negative impact of the virus on our production. To-date, we have had positive cases in just five out of our eleven production facilities and 2 positive cases out of our 17 hatcheries and feed mills. For the foreseeable future, our customers and consumers can expect us to reliably meet their chicken product needs, and we have no current plans to close any of our facilities. Should this change for any reason, we will notify our customers as soon as possible, so they can make any necessary adjustments for their businesses.
SIGNIFICANT MEASURES TAKEN TO PROTECT OUR FARMER PARTNERS
We have provided guidance to our field representatives on the following:
- Service representatives will refrain from face-to-face conversations with farmers. If there are issues beyond a service report that need to be addressed, those conversations will happen via telephone.
- Farm visits will be no more than once a week per farm, and only if necessary.
- Service representatives will wear gloves, along with their other required PPE, to reduce the possible spread of the virus through doors and other equipment at the farms.
We recognize the impact of COVID-19 on our people and communities. For that reason, we have implemented additional special “HERO” incentive bonuses for those team members who meet basic attendance standards. Additionally, we are providing deeply discounted bulk-chicken product sales to help our team members and the communities where we operate to feed their families – more than one million pounds sold.
For those team members who are finding this situation especially challenging for any reason, whether professional or personal, we are providing access to emotional support services, free of charge.
A FINAL NOTE
For the negatives surrounding COVID-19, there have also been positive outcomes from this challenge. It has required us to come together, bring our personal bests, and to be innovative and creative in planning for and meeting chicken supply needs for our customers and consumers. We also do not take for granted the kind of company we need to be for our team members and farm partners: one that successfully continues to provide them sources of income for their livelihoods, and one that demonstrates behaviors and actions that make them proud to work for Wayne Farms.