Two Tyson Foods workers die of coronavirus

Two Tyson Foods workers die of coronavirus
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Two employees of Tyson Foods’s Columbus Junction, Iowa, pork processing plant died of the coronavirus, the company confirmed to The Hill.

The site, which is one of the largest pork processing plants in the US, had 148 confirmed cases. It closed on April 6 due to the outbreak.

“We’re deeply saddened by the loss of two team members at our Columbus Junction plant. Their families are in our thoughts and prayers,” Tyson Foods said in a statement. “We continue working diligently to protect our team members at facilities across the country by taking worker temperatures, requiring protective face coverings and conducting additional cleaning and sanitizing. We’re implementing social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers, spreading out work stations where possible, and providing more breakroom space.”

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Tyson Food is the second largest chicken, beef and pork processor in the world.

“[W]e have suspended operations at our Columbus Junction, Iowa, pork plant this week due to more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 involving team members at the facility. In an effort to minimize the impact on our overall production, we’re diverting the livestock supply originally scheduled for delivery to Columbus Junction to some of our other pork plants in the region,” CEO Noel White said in a statement at the time when the plant closed. 

A worker at Smithfield Foods’s plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., which also had an outbreak, died from coronavirus. The facility had 644 confirmed cases. 

Recent closures of processing plants due to coronavirus outbreaks have put a spotlight on the food supply chain. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said this week that the U.S. food supply chain remains sound.

“It’s safe, it’s resilient, and it’ll continue. We have multiple processing facilities. While some are down temporarily to clean out, [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is working with them on the best measures to protect their employees as well as to become operational again,” he told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo.