Documents say 52 employees at Butterball have COVID-19

Documents say 52 employees at Butterball have COVID-19
52 employees at Butterball have COVID-19, documents say. (Source: WITN)

DUPLIN COUNTY, NC (WITN) - Documents show a Duplin County turkey plant has more than 50 employees who have come down with COVID-19.

Butterball says it has had positive cases at its facility outside of Mount Olive, but so far hasn't said exactly how many workers are sick.

WITN has obtained nine memos from Butterball CEO & President Jay Jandrain, the first being on April 13 and the last one from this past Friday. In the memos, Jandrain updates employees on positive cases from within the plant.

According to the memos, the total is 52 Butterball workers with the virus, while the highest number of cases reported so far was on Friday with 11 new cases.

In the memos, the CEO says they continue to follow previous protocol "which includes contacting those individuals who have had significant contact with these team members so they can also quarantine for 14 days."

The company told WITN that quarantined employees continue to get pay and benefits, while Butterball is reviewing their operational response on a daily basis. Butterball would not confirm the 52 cases, saying they don’t feel a total number would give an accurate representation of that’s going on at the plant. “This has been a fluid situation...as some individuals have recovered and returned to work,” said Jordan Fossali.

Late Monday, Duplin County confirmed the outbreak at Butterball, but would not say how many workers had tested positive.

The county says the company is following guidance for meat and poultry processing plants to protect employees and the food supply.

At last check, Duplin County has 51 confirmed cases, but cases are attached to a patient’s home county and employees at the Butterball plant could possibly be from several Eastern Carolina counties.

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