A Tyson Foods Iowa pork processing plant is closed after officials find an amazing 22% of workers tested positive for COVID-19.
The 550 workers infected with the coronavirus at Storm Lake, Iowa, which employs 2,500 people, caused a flood of cases in Buena Vista County, home to only 20,000. With a total of 700 people who tested positive on Thursday, the county has the highest case concentration in Iowa.
Slaughterhouse operators and state officials were fired on Wednesday after the Iowa Department of Health announced that cases of COVID-1
The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement called on Wednesday for all Tyson plants in the state to be closed immediately until workers and the public can be protected.
“The outbreak at the Tyson pork packaging facility in Storm Lake is evidence that President Trump, Governor Reynolds and Tyson’s strategy to reopen the economy before it is safe failed,” said group president Tom Mohan, in a statement. “Iowa Chamber of Commerce members urge the President, Governor, and CEOs to close the plants until they can ensure worker safety and public health.”
Meat processing companies are nationwide hot spots for corona viruses, which cause health problems in the surrounding rural communities. However, certain figures are often unclear because there are no reporting requirements and no plant cooperation.
By the end of April, the centers for disease control and prevention had tested an estimated 5,000 workers. The nonprofit Food & Environment Reporting Network announced last week that the number of 66 deaths had risen to over 17,000.
Districts with meat processing plants are reported to have an average five times higher COVID-19 infection rate than elsewhere in rural America.
Despite the risk, President Donald Trump passed a decree last month calling for all factories to remain open. Workers who are too scared to risk their health run the risk of losing their jobs – and even unemployment benefits.
Previously, Tyson had closed three other plants in Iowa, as well as plants in Nebraska, Indiana and Washington State, to implement protective measures for workers.
The company announced in a statement on Thursday that it would stop pork processing “within the next two days” and “perform additional deep cleaning and disinfection of the entire facility … before resuming operations later next week”. It partially attributed the problems on Storm Lake to “a delay in COVID-19 test results and … quarantine absences”.
Tyson also promised to be more open with test results. “The health and safety of our team members, their families and communities is our top priority,” said the company.
Tyson also operates a turkey processing facility in the county.
Smithfield Foods recently resumed operations at its largest pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, near the Iowa border, after being closed for almost a month. JBS opened a pork processing plant across the Iowa border in Minnesota.
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