Reynolds: No Plans To Close Waterloo Tyson Plant
Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday that she had no plans to shutdown Tyson Fresh Meats in Waterloo, despite local officials calling for the plant's temporary closure.
Last week, a group of 19 Black Hawk County leaders signed a letter pushing for Tyson to voluntarily close the meatpacking facility due to a surge in coronavirus cases linked to the plant. In the letter, they said ceasing operations would allow time for an appropriate cleaning and mitigation strategies to be in place for the facility to resume production.
The Black Hawk County Board of Health has scheduled a special meeting Tuesday morning to discussion the Tyson situation. According to the meeting agenda, board members are considering possible action against the company.
On Monday, Reynolds warned that shutting down the Waterloo facility would impact the food supply chain and hurt farmers.
"We will continue to see clusters of positive cases in these types of facilities because COVID-19 spreads quickly and easily among people in close proximity and once the virus is introduced into this type of environment, it's very difficult to contain, Reynolds said at her daily press briefing. "These are essential businesses and with an essential workforce. Without them, people's lives and our food supply will be impacted."
Two other meat processing plants in Iowa recently closed after outbreaks of the coronavirus were reported in those facilities. The Tyson pork plant in Columbus Junction suspended operations on April 6 after more than two dozen employees there tested positive, and the Iowa Premium plant in Tama shutdown on April 10. Producation at the Tama facility resumed Monday, one day after state health officials acknowledged that 177 of the plant's 500 workers tested positive.
Health officials announced 257 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, increasing the statewide total to 3,159. Iowa recorded 389 new cases Sunday, the state's largest daily total since the pandemic began last month.
The virus has claimed 79 lives in Iowa, with 48 percent of the deaths being linked to long-term care facilities. Four additional deaths were also reported Monday, including the second one in Black Hawk County. State health officials identified the Black Hawk County victim as an adult between the ages of 41 and 60.