270 Texas food plant workers have COVID-19, one has died

About 270 workers at a Texas food plant have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus and one of them has died. (KXII photo)
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GRAYSON COUNTY, Texas (KXII) Grayson County health officials confirmed the first death related to COVID-19, a man in his 50s from Denison.

Family members told KXII in Sherman the man was a forklift operator at Tyson Foods in Sherman, where multiple employees say about 270 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

The man was feeling sick and was short of breath Tuesday morning, so he drove himself to the hospital, where he went into cardiac arrest, family members said.

He was tested last week for the virus and was still waiting for results when he died.

COVID-19 was reported as the cause of death.

Last week, the Texas Department of Emergency Management tested every worker at the plant, but employees say as results come in, the outbreak keeps growing.

"I mean today they were just coming basically as they were getting results in, they were coming and getting people and escorting them out of the building and telling them to go on a two-week quarantine," an employee who spoke with KXII on condition of anonymity said.

He was at the doctor's office to get tested again.

He says he was sent home Tuesday, when he showed COVID-19 symptoms including hot and cold sweats, and chills.

Employees told KXII that about 300 to 400 test results are still pending, and about 1,000 have come back negative.

Tyson is checking temperatures before employees go inside the facility.

"Everybody was making it into the building and working," the employee said.

He says workers whose results are pending are still coming to work, and that as results come in, those who test positive are notified while at work.

"So basically all they're doing is walking up to you and saying ‘hey I need you to come with me’ and they walk you to the door, almost like you're being fired, which to me would be like humiliation," he said.

"We are saddened by the loss of any Tyson team member and sympathize with their family at this difficult time,” Tyson spokesman Derek Burleson said in a statement.

“At Tyson Foods, our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we have put in place a host of protective steps at our facilities that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19."

Burleson said the company won't release a number of positive cases at the Sherman plant because it is still waiting on test results to come back that are still pending.

He says they expect to have those tests results by Wednesday.

Texas Department of State Health Services data show 165 confirmed cases in Grayson County