SHERMAN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Officials in Grayson County have confirmed the first death related to COVID-19 — a man in his 50s from Denison. Family members say he was a forklift operator at the Tyson Foods plant in Sherman.
Some employees at the plant say there have been nearly 300 workers there who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Family members say the only Grayson County victim was feeling sick and had begun to have shortness of breath, so he drove himself to the hospital — once there the man went into cardiac arrest.
The man had reportedly been tested for the virus days before, but hadn’t yet received the results.
It was last week when the Texas Department of Emergency Management tested every worker at the Tyson plant. But employees say while they are waiting to learn if they are positive, the outbreak at the Sherman facility keeps growing.
One employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “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 2-week quarantine.”
The man went to a doctor’s office to get tested again. He says he was sent home Tuesday after showing COVID-19 symptoms that included hot and cold sweats and chills.
According to employees, some 1,000 tests have come back negative, but there are between 300-400 tests that are are still pending. Workers whose results are pending are allegedly still going to work, and those who test positive are notified on the job.
“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,” the worker said.
Officials at Tyson have begun checking the temperatures of employees before allowing them inside the building.
Tyson spokesperson Derek Burelson issued a statement that said, in part, “We are saddened by the loss of any Tyson team member and sympathize with their family at this difficult time. At Tyson Foods our top priority is the health and safety of our team members.”
The company said they would not release the number of positive cases at the Sherman plant, because they are waiting for all of the test results to come in. Burelson said when they have that information the company plans on releasing the number of positive cases at the plant.