Tyson Closes Storm Lake Plant After 555 Reported COVID-19 Cases

Tyson Foods

STORM LAKE, Iowa - Tyson Foods announced Thursday evening that it's halting operations at its Storm Lake processing plant.

The move came hours after the Department of Public Health announced that roughly a fifth of the plants workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

The company says it's halting operations because of a delay in COVID-19 testing results and employee absences related to quarantine. It also said it's performing additional cleaning and sanitizing of the facility will take place before resuming operations next week.

Tyson has temporarily closed four Iowa plants since the COVID-19 pandemic began, in Waterloo, Columbus Junction, Waterloo and Perry. More than a third of the workers at the Waterloo plant, 1,031 out of 2,800 tested positive for the virus.

Sarah Reisetter with the Iowa Department of Public Health said the Storm Lake Tyson plant reported 555 COVID-19 cases. The plant employs 2,517 people,

Wednesday, Reisetter said the state would only confirm outbreaks at meatpacking plants when asked by the media. Reisetter has said that the state requests, but does not require companies to inform them when 10 percent of employees have the virus. She also said, "Iowa law allows confirmation about outbreaks only when necessary to protect the health of the public."

Signals of an outbreak emerged earlier this week with reporting that Buena Vista County, where the Storm Lake plant sits, was on a FEMA list of top 10 counties in the nation with growing cases of COVID-19 in the past two weeks.

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