Story at a glance

  • More than 1,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies showing they were previously infected.
  • The announcement Thursday came the same day the plant opened after a two-week closure due to the outbreak.
  • On Wednesday, state officials reported only 444 cases from the facility.

More than 1,000 workers from Tyson Foods’ largest pork processing plant in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19, the Des Moines Register reports

Local officials Thursday identified 1,031 workers from Tyson's Waterloo, Iowa plant who tested positive for coronavirus or for antibodies that show they were previously infected. The news came the same day the facility resumed operations following a two-week closure prompted by the coronavirus. 


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The number includes workers who were tested at the plant during the shutdown as well as at private health care providers and includes workers who were asymptomatic, the Des Moines Register reports

On Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said 444 workers from the Waterloo plant tested positive. 

Joshua Pikora, a disease surveillance and investigation manager in Black Hawk County where the Waterloo plant is located, said the numbers reported by the governor did not include tests done at health facilities outside the Tyson plant, the Des Moines Register reports. 

The plant employs about 3,000 people and was one of several meat packing plants forced to shut its doors in recent weeks due to coronavirus outbreaks among workers.

The company said all workers returning to the plant have been tested for the virus and those who have tested positive will be able to remain on sick leave. Employees who have not been tested will not be able to return to work. 

As Tyson reopened several plants in the U.S. this week, it announced wellness screenings will be performed on employees, which includes temperature checks and examinations for other COVID-19 symptoms. Employees are also required to wear facial coverings, and employees at work stations where protective barriers can’t be installed will have to wear face shields, the Des Moines register reports. 

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At least 18 meat packing plants in the U.S. closed due to outbreaks that have infected thousands, leading U.S. beef and pork production to drop 40 percent in April. 

Last week, President Trump designated meatpacking plants as critical infrastructure to prevent states from shutting down factories and pledged to provide more personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees.


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Published on May 08, 2020