Coronavirus outbreak at Tyson pork-processing plant infected 1,031 workers, officials say
Local officials say the coronavirus outbreak at a Tyson Foods pork-processing plant in Iowa infected more than 1,000 workers, a far greater number than the state or company has acknowledged.
Black Hawk County health officials said Thursday that they have identified 1,031 workers at the Waterloo plant who have tested positive for the coronavirus or for antibodies that show they had been infected. That would be about 37% of the plant’s 2,800 workers.
Restaurant closures due to the coronavirus have contributed to an estimated $5 billion in losses this year for the U.S. pork industry, and almost overnight millions of hogs stacking up on farms now have little value.
The Iowa Department of Public Health had announced Tuesday that 444 workers at the plant had tested positive.
The county health department said Thursday that the state’s figures include only workers who tested positive during mass testing at the plant. County officials say they have identified hundreds of additional employees who tested positive at clinics in the county or through serological testing.
President Trump signed an executive order compelling meat-processing plants to remain open, declaring them critical infrastructure.
The disclosure came hours after Tyson resumed operations at the plant, which had been suspended for more than two weeks. Tyson officials said that they have implemented several safeguards that had not been in place at the beginning of the pandemic.
The outbreak at Tyson has devastated the community. At least three Waterloo Tyson employees have died, and a fourth is in a medical coma.
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