A new congressional report details just how bad coronavirus outbreaks were at meatpacking plants in Iowa and across the country.
The National Beef plant in Tama, for example, had a 44% infection rate as 379 of the facility’s 857 workers contracted the virus. Across the river from Sioux City in Dakota City, Nebraska, the Tyson plan saw 18 deaths and nearly 2,000 infections amongst its 4,300 employees.
The Tyson plant in Waterloo also saw a major outbreak.
“In Black Hawk County, Iowa—home to a 2,800-employee Tyson meatpacking plant that saw 1,174 employees contract the coronavirus—coronavirus rates surged by 900% in April 2020.
“Local health officials attributed 90% of these cases to the outbreak at Tyson’s facility. Although the rates have since fallen, the damage to communities from increased infection rates, including in lost productivity and life, is irreversible.”
The report also cited a Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) study showing that workers of color bore the brunt of those infections.
“A study of infected Iowa workers in the early days of the pandemic found that, of all infected workers, 44% were Hispanic, 20% were non-Hispanic Black, 18% were non-Hispanic white, 16% were Asian, and 2% were members of other, unspecified groups,” the report reads.
The numbers were similar in Nebraska, which shares a border with Iowa.
“A CDC study of Nebraska meatpacking facility outbreaks found that 89% of those infected with the coronavirus in the summer of 2020 were racial or ethnic minorities,” the report reads. “Despite white workers making up 39% of the overall workforce studied, data also showed that only 13% of coronavirus cases involved white workers.
“These trends in Nebraska and Iowa—two states with some of the highest concentrations of meatpacking workers and the lowest proportions of racial and ethnic minorities—illustrate the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on minorities both within the meatpacking industry and nationwide.”
by Ty Rushing