ST. JOSEPH, MO (KCTV) – A major food processor is testing thousands of employees in St. Joseph after more than a dozen cases of COVID-19 at the facility.

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Employees at the Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, line up for coronavirus screenings on Monday, April 27, 2020. Plant mangers said they were trying to be proactive with the testing so it could be done while plant operations continued.

Triumph Foods is the city's second largest employer, and like other food processors in Missouri, like Conagra and Cargill, company officials are trying to stay running by workers through one of the most extensive test sites seen in the area.

Employees in the screening line are staying a few feet apart, and it takes around 17 minutes to get through and get tested. The company said it is doing all of these tests while also maintaining plant operations.

Company officials said they're doing this proactively. The state recommended mass testing, so they worked with officials and Northwest Health to arrange for 3,000 testing kits.

Testers have been calling workers out in groups, checking them into the system, then screening and swabbing them as quickly as possible.

They'll be screening employees all week and should receive results by this time next week.

“The challenge was to bring the resources together so quickly to make this happen,” Rodney Hummer with Northwest Health explained. “We've learned real quickly in the first hour or so, and now we're working with the company's HR manager so this is a quick and immediate process.”

Health officials said they're hoping this method of testing can be a model for other food processing companies where outbreaks can happen.

“There's just a huge ripple effect when plants have to shut down because of COVID-19,” Dr. Steven Brushwood with Northwest Health told KCTV5 News. “We're hoping to see by doing this that it helps find an answer to keep these processing plants open.”

Northwest Health will do around 600 tests per day every day this week until every single employee is tested.

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