Local man describes working at a plant that’s a coronavirus hot spot


EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT) – An Emporia factory has become a coronavirus hotspot with nearly three dozen cases.

Charles Baldwin works at the Tyson Foods Plant in Emporia. He said masks are now part of his required work wear.

“Business is kind of normal out there, with the exception everyone walks around looking like doctors,” Baldwin said.

There are a few other changes too, according to Baldwin. He said the plant now does temperature checks, has social distancing rules in place, and has hand sanitizer stations.

“With the sanitation we use out there, I feel more comfortable at the plant than I do walking around Emporia,” he said.

Those precautions didn’t keep the virus out of the plant. Lyon County’s Health Department said 30 out of the county’s 83 confirmed cases are connected to the Tyson plant.

Lyon County Public Health Officer Renee Hively said it’s something they’re keeping an eye on.

“With the clusters that we have happening like at Tyson, Simmons, and other manufacturing plants we have in our counties as well: Identify them. Isolate them and get their contacts quarantined,” Hively said.

Baldwin said while the numbers are scary he trusts those in charge to keep him safe.

“I think everybody’s aware of what’s going on and we’re just trying to get through this the best we can,” Baldwin said.

While he’ll continue to take precautions on the job he said he’s just grateful to be able to go to work.

“There’s a lot of people not working, a lot of people who’ve lost their jobs. I’m still working, paying my bills and I’ve got an opportunity for 10 hours a day to get away from what’s going on around me,” Baldwin said. “I feel more comfortable than I do in my apartment building.”

According to Lyon County’s Health Department, there are five spots in their county that it considers coronavirus cluster spots. Those include the Tyson Plant, Simmons Food, the Hostess Plant, Heritage Pentecostal Church and Detroit Diesel.

The health department said it’s working on tracing the contacts of the people who have tested positive. Officials are also scheduling a visit to that plant and others in the area so they can help them keep other workers like Baldwin safe.

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