Gov. Kim Reynolds confirmed today that the drastic jump in COVID-19 cases in Southeast Iowa has come largely from the Tyson meat packing plant based in Louisa County. Of Iowa’s new 189 positive cases statewide today, 86 are tied to the Columbus Junction Tyson plant.
The Governor’s staff confirmed to Starting Line that there are 166 total infections from that Tyson plant.
Louisa County, which has a population of just 11,387, climbed from one case a little over a week ago to 152 now. The local public health department reported 73 new cases yesterday. The IDPH numbers have sometimes been delayed from the county reporting, but appear to be in the new statewide numbers today. The Southeast Iowa county now has the largest per-capita rate of infection of any county in Iowa.
The Tyson plant shut down temporarily on April 6 after it was announced that over two dozen workers had tested positive for COVID-19. The break was originally to last a week, but was extended for another.
Reynolds said the state recently sent 200 additional tests for use in the Tyson plant. She also noted that the plant had taken many measures to protect their employees, including providing masks and face shields.
“I think they have been very proactive so when they stand the plant back up they’re not only doing everything to protect the employees but to [protect the food supply],” Reynolds said.
Reynolds added that they will continue to test at the plant and have reached out to other packing plants in the state to see if they have any spikes in illness in order to get in front of another outbreak.
by Pat Rynard