Tyson Foods closes Iowa pork plant indefinitely after coronavirus outbreak

Tyson Foods is suspending operations at its pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, because too many workers have been absent due to the coronavirus pandemic, Market Watch reported on Wednesday.

All 2,800 workers of the plant will be asked to come in for coronavirus testing, which will determine the timing of its reopening. They will be paid while the plant is closed, the company said. 

“The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company, since the plant is part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers,” Chief Executive Steve Stouffer said in a statement. “It means the loss of a vital market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation's pork supply.” 

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Two employees of Tyson Foods’ pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, have died from the coronavirus after at least 148 workers tested positive. The company announced on Tuesday it would partially reopen that plant. 

Four employees of Tyson Foods’ poultry processing plant in Georgia have also died from the coronavirus.

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