Poultry plants, state, community groups work to curb COVID-19 spread

April 22, 2020

Several state departments and agencies have partnered with the Sussex County poultry industry to offer rapid COVID-19 testing to workers.

“We’ve seen a significant surge in COVID-19 cases in communities across Sussex County,” said Gov. John Carney. “This new testing program is designed to save lives.”

Over the next week, state officials will be partnering with local hospitals and others to offer free, rapid coronavirus testing at poultry plants and at community testing sites in Sussex County, Carney said.

“As the largest employers in Sussex County, we are partnering with the poultry industry to ensure that workers and their families get all of the information they need to be safe and healthy,” he said.

Carney said the community testing plan is a three-pronged effort which includes testing through the use of rapid test kits and ensuring access to care; guidance on isolation and assistance when it is not possible to isolate safely; and education and outreach through the assistance of community partners. Individuals will receive care kits with essential materials including hand sanitizer, bandanas, thermometers, and educational materials, he said. Educational materials are being translated into Spanish and Haitian Creole to reach those who do not read English as their first language. Tests are not mandatory.

Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said in addition to testing sites at poultry plants, there will also be community testing sites. “We believe this community-based testing strategy will be critical in identifying the extent of the spread of COVID-19 and of mitigating it, by providing guidance and support for those with positive test results and educational materials for everyone tested,” she said.

Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse said the spread of COVID-19 needs to be stopped in Sussex County so that the state can reopen. “We want to ensure that every employee gets the care they need, and to make sure if a staff member does have COVID-19 that we can stop it from spreading to others. We appreciate the efforts that the poultry companies are taking to protect their employees, including implementing physical barriers and social distancing protocols, daily health screenings, and now on-site testing," he said.

Other state agencies partnering in the plan are Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and Delaware Emergency Management Agency. Businesses and organizations participating are 

  • Bayhealth
  • Beebe Healthcare
  • ChristianaCare Health System
  • Nanticoke Health Services
  • Westside Family Healthcare
  • Allen Harim
  • Mountaire Farms
  • Perdue Farms
  • Local Community Partners and Organizations
  • Municipal and county government
  • Delaware Technical Community College Georgetown
  • Community health centers and providers 

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