A giant food processing company forced to recently shutdown plants in three Iowa cities due to coronavirus outbreaks is planning to double employee bonuses.

Tyson Foods, Inc., announced in a press release Wednesday that the company will be paying an extra $120 million in bonuses to frontline workers and truckers. Earlier this month, Tyson officials said the amount would be $60 million.

Under the program, 116,000 Tyson workers are eligible to receive two $500 payments. They'll get one bonus in May and the other in July.

According the press release, Tyson Foods is also increasing short-term disability coverage to 90% of normal pay through the end of June for team members who are unable to work due to illness. It is another way of encouraging team members to stay home when they are sick, company officials said.

“This pandemic is ever-evolving, and the decision to make these changes reflects our desire to continuously explore new ways of supporting our team members through this crisis,” said Mary Oleksiuk, executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Tyson Foods. “The safety and well-being of our people is our top priority as we work together to fulfill our critical role of feeding people across the country.”

In the press release, Tyson officials said the company is also increasing employee screening and implementing other safety measures designed to protect production workers from the virus.

In addition to checking workers' temperatures, the company also plans to take the following measures:

  • Screen workers for additional symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath
  • Have designated monitors at each facility to help enforce social distancing
  • Require the use of company-provided surgical-style face coverings

Last week, Tyson indefinitely suspended operations at its pork processing plant in Waterloo after local health officials linked more than half of Black Hawk County's COVID-19 cases to an outbreak there. The facility remains shuttered.

Tyson also voluntarily idled its pork plants in Columbus Junction and Perry so they could be deep cleaned and employees could be tested for the coronavirus. Those facilities have reopened.

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