9,000 employees sick as COVID overwhelms Arkansas workplaces

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FILE – In this July 30, 2001, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to Tyson Foods headquarters in Springdale, Ark. Tyson Foods says it is raising wages to combat absenteeism and worker turnover at its plants as U.S. demand for chicken soars. The Springdale, Arkansas-based company said Monday, May 10, 2021, that absentee rates are around 50% higher than they were before the pandemic. (AP Photo/April L. Brown, File)

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — A new analysis of COVID-19 cases at workplaces in Arkansas is highlighting Tyson Foods Inc. as a significant source of outbreaks over the past year.

The website Arkansascovid.com and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism find Tyson accounted for one-third of reported COVID cases in Arkansas workplaces from May 2020 through April 2021.

State health records show some nine thousand Arkansas workers tested positive for COVID. It’s unclear where workers got the virus, yet several say they weren’t told about sick coworkers.

Few Arkansas workers complained to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Just eight of 106 COVID complaints to OSHA involved Arkansas poultry factories.

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