Where Iowa’s Meatpacking Outbreaks Stand Today

Late Wednesday night, the Tyson plant in Dakota City, Nebraska announced it will close for four days starting yesterday.

Despite a lack of confirmation from the plant or the local health departments, the plant has been linked to the growing number of coronavirus outbreaks in the surrounding area, including Sioux City, Iowa. Thursday night, the Sioux City Journal reported 669 cases at the plant.

In the past few days, area mayors called for Tyson to release exact numbers of employees who tested positive, but the plant has so far resisted.

The surge of cases in Woodbury County put Sioux City on the map for the highest average daily growth of cases. Now, the county is reporting 1,114 total positive cases.

On the other side of the state in Waterloo, the Tyson plant there remains closed indefinitely. It shut its doors last week after a combination of pressure from local officials and worker absenteeism forced its hand. Thursday, Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye said she’s talked with Tyson officials and there’s still no specific date for when the plant will reopen.

Black Hawk County—where Waterloo is—has reported the highest number of cases in Iowa with 1,471 and 13 deaths as of 10 a.m. yesterday.

Plants that shut down in Columbus Junction, Tama and Perry have all reopened.

At the same time, more facilities continue to have outbreaks. Seaboard Triumph Foods in Sioux City reported 11 cases Tuesday.

There’s also been an outbreak confirmed at the Tyson plant in Joslin, Illinois which is just on the other side of the Mississippi River from Davenport. Ninety-two positive cases and two deaths have been attributed to that Tyson plant as of Wednesday.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, Scott County—where Davenport is located—has 230 cases and six deaths as of 10 a.m. yesterday.

Last Monday, a JBS plant in Marshalltown reported 34 positive cases among its workforce. Wednesday, the county reported 467 cases and two deaths. There have been no updates on the outbreak at the plant, and no signs of how many cases in the county can be attributed to it. Worker absenteeism has risen as the plant continues to operate.

 

by Nikoel Hytrek
Posted 5/2/20

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