More than 700 workers, or 58% of workers, at the Tyson meat factory in Iowa test positive for COVID-19
At a Tyson Foods meat processing plant in Iowa, more than half of the personnel tests are positive for coronavirus, as the pandemic continues to impact meat processing plants across the country.
On Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health approved the release of test results from workplaces with confirmed outbreaks, meaning at least 10 percent of workers have been confirmed to be infected.
At the Tyson factory in Perry, 730 employees tested positive for COVID-19. That is 58 percent of their staff.
The Tyson Columbus Junction plant had 221 post-test tests, 26 percent of the workforce, and Tyson’s Waterloo facility tested 17 percent of workers.
Iowa Premium Beef in Tama saw 221 positive tests, or 39 percent of the workforce.
The main entrance to Tyson Foods’ pig processing plant in Perry, Iowa was seen last month. More than half of the factory employees tested positive for coronavirus
The new workplace statistics were released Tuesday at a news conference by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa
The chart above shows the daily number of coronavirus cases confirmed in Iowa by date of onset of the disease
Also, the wind turbine blade manufacturer TPI Composites in Newton had 131 positive tests, or 13 percent of its workforce.
It was not immediately clear how many of the positive test cases were sick or symptomatic.
Tyson did not immediately respond to a request from DailyMail.com whether it planned to close the factories.
Last month, President Donald Trump gave an exclusive order in an executive order to monitor the closure or reopening of meat factories affected by the pandemic in an effort to keep the food supply chain functioning.
Last week, Tyson deployed mobile clinics at its facilities in Columbus Junction and Waterloo to test and screen all employees on site.
“Tyson is committed to taking every possible measure to protect our team members,” Hector Gonzalez, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Tyson Foods, said in a statement at the time.
To date, Iowa has reported more than 10,000 positive test results and 207 deaths from coronavirus.
The mounting meat crisis in America has been uncovered in photos of empty store shelves across the country after processing plants had to slow down or close production
Some of the largest slaughterhouses and processing plants in the United States have been forced to shut down in recent weeks due to workers outbreaks. Other factories have slowed production because workers have become ill or have stayed at home to avoid becoming ill
It comes after 890 of the 2,200 workers at the Tyson plant in Logansport, Indiana – about 40 percent of the workers – tested positive for coronavirus in less than a week.
The pig processing plant was inactive for 14 days to control the spread of the virus and was to be partially reopened this week.
The outbreak clusters associated with meat processing plants have had far-reaching consequences in the communities in which they are located.
In Waterloo, Iowa, the virus burned through a modest duplex.
Downstairs was Jim Orvis, 65, a beloved friend and uncle who worked in the laundry department of the pork processing facility at Tyson Foods, the largest employer in Waterloo.
Upstairs was Arthur Scott, a 51-year-old father who got his life back on track after a prison sentence for drugs. He worked 40 miles away at Tyson’s dog biscuit factory in Independence, Iowa.
The two men did not know each other well. But both got sick and died within a few days of each other last month from COVID-19 – victims of an outbreak related to the Waterloo factory that spread across the city to 68,000 people.
A similar spread is taking place in other communities where the economy revolves around keeping pigs and livestock and processing their meat, including the hotspots of Grand Island, Nebraska and Worthington, Minnesota.
The virus “destroys everything,” said duplex owner Jose Garcia, who was notified two days after the surviving relatives of his deceased tenants. “These two boys were here last week. Now they are gone. It’s crazy. “
He said it is possible that one of the men infected the other because they shared an access road, or that they each contracted the virus at their workplace.
The virus threatens the most vulnerable populations of the communities, including low-income workers and their extended families.
“They are afraid of catching the virus. They are afraid to spread it to family members. Some of them are afraid of dying, “said Rev. Jim Callahan of the Church of St Mary of Worthington, a city of 13,000 who has attracted immigrants from all over the world to work in the JBS meat processing plant.
“A man said to me,” I risked getting my life here. I never thought that something I can’t see would take me out. ”
Local Waterloo officials blame Tyson for endangering not only his employees and their relatives during the pandemic, but everyone else who leaves the house to work or run errands
A two-story duplex in Waterloo, Iowa, where two tenants who worked for Tyson died of COVID-19 within days of each other
In Grand Island, an outbreak related to a JBS beef factory, the city’s largest employer, quickly spread across rural central Nebraska, killing more than three dozen people. Many of the dead were elderly residents of long-term care facilities with relatives or friends who worked in the factory.
In Waterloo, local officials reproach Tyson for endangering not only his employees and their family members, but anyone who leaves the house to work or run errands. They are enraged at the state and federal government for not intervening – and for pushing hard to reopen the factory days after public pressure helped shut it down.
“We were failed by people who put profit margins and greed for people, mostly brown people, mainly immigrants, mainly people who live in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods,” said Jonathan Grieder, a high school social studies teacher who is on the city council from Waterloo. “This will stay with us for so long. There will be very deep scars in our community. ‘
Grieder cried when he told how one of his former students, 19, lost her father to the coronavirus and was left to raise two younger siblings. Their mother died of cancer last September.
Meat prices have skyrocketed, and store owners have limited the number of products each customer can buy to keep products on the shelves, but supplies are still empty (photo, a Whole Foods in Brooklyn, New York)
The crisis is set to get worse, despite Donald Trump using the Defense Production Act to force processing plants to continue, with stocks being lowest at the end of May (photo, a Whole Foods in Brooklyn, New York)
Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson said he was concerned for the first time after traveling through the Tyson factory on April 10 and witnessing insufficient social distance and a lack of personal protective equipment. When hundreds of workers fell ill or stayed at home for fear, Thompson joined the mayor and numerous local officials by asking Tyson to temporarily shut down the factory on April 16.
But Tyson, with support from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, waited until April 22 to announce that the move was going to get even more intense after the outbreak. The company warned of the significant economic consequences that even a temporary closure would bring.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported on Tuesday that 444 Tyson workers in the factory tested positive, about 17 percent of those tested.
The factory, which can handle 19,500 pigs a day, is now poised to resume production after President Donald Trump invokes the Defense Production Act to demand that meat packers remain open.
Meat shortages have consequences for Wendy’s, Kroger and Costco
Wendy’s restaurant has taken burgers off the menu in some locations, and supermarkets Costco and Kroger have announced limited supplies of beef as Americans begin to feel the impact of the pandemic-led meat shortage.
It’s a shocking decision for Wendy’s, which has established itself as the first fast-food chain to offer fresh ‘never frozen’ beef, and it’s an uncanny foreshadow of what’s to be found in restaurants across the country.
Beef shortages were reported Monday at Wendy’s locations in California, South Carolina and Kentucky. Wendy’s ‘Baconator’ bacon cheeseburger was still available in Chicago.
“As you’ve probably heard, beef suppliers in North America are currently facing production challenges,” said a statement by Wendy.
Reynolds and Tyson have argued that the 2,800-worker factory is critical to the nation’s pork supply and the regional farmers who sell millions of pigs to Tyson.
In three weeks, Black Hawk County’s business soared from 62 to 1,546 – more than 1% of its 132,000 residents. The number of deaths rose from zero to eighteen. The county’s public health director said that 90% of cases are “attributed to or related to the plant.”
A Tyson spokeswoman said “workplace safety remains a top priority.”
Thompson said the factory outbreak decimated the community’s “first line of defense” and spread the virus to nursing homes and the prison he oversees. “These are the places where we didn’t want to fight the COVID-19 virus,” he said.
Losses add up quickly.
A refugee from Bosnia died days after she fell ill while working on Tyson’s production line, leaving her heartbroken husband behind. The virus also took over a mentally handicapped man who died at the age of 73, years after escaping forced labor at a turkey factory in Iowa and happily retiring to Waterloo.
Nicknamed Dontae, Scott planned to be reunited in June with two teenage children whom he had not personally seen since he was incarcerated for federal drug charges in 2011.
A former small heroin distributor who suffered from an addiction, he and his wife divorced during his prison sentence and moved with the children to Mississippi. Since his 2018 release, friends have said he was doing well and rebuilding relationships.
Scott told his daughter, Destiny Proctor, 18, that he suspected he had become infected at the Tyson pet food factory, which has remained open under federal supervision and classifies the industry as critical infrastructure.
Proctor and her 15-year-old brother were looking forward to living with their father this summer. Instead, their last conversation was a video call from a hospital where he struggled to speak.
“It was so, so sad,” said Proctor, who described her father as funny and caring and often sent her cards and gifts. “He said he couldn’t breathe.”