Tyson plant in Iowa temporarily halting operations after COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus

STORM LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) – Production at the Tyson plant in Storm Lake is being halted after officials confirmed there was an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility.

In a release, the company said the temporary closure is due to in part of many employees who were absent related to quarantine, they decided that operations at the facility will be temporarily halted.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynold confirmed an outbreak in the facility Thursday morning, with 555 employees of the 2,517 total employees having tested positive for COVID-19.

The facility will idle harvesting animals and finish processing on Friday and Saturday with deep cleaning and sanitizing taking place before they restart operations next week.

Tyson is working with local health officials to test employees and contractors at the plant and said it will share the results with officials, employees and stakeholders once available.

When operations resume, the facility will offer additional testing, daily clinical symptom screenings, nurse practitioners, and enhanced education through Matrix Medical which has a mobile unit on site, according to Tyson. The company said that those are in addition to the many other measures they’ve taken to meet CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19, including the following

  • Conducting wellness health screening of all team members each time they arrive at the facility
  • Providing face masks to employees and requiring they are worn
  • Requiring face shields in the limited areas where neither barriers nor six-foot physical separation is practical
  • Installing widespread hand sanitizer stations throughout the plants
  • Designating additional social distance monitors during all shifts
  • Increasing short-term disability coverage to 90% of normal pay until June 30
  • Doubling their “thank you” bonus for frontline workers to $120 million. Team members who cannot work due to illness or childcare issues related to COVID-19 will continue to qualify.

The full statement from Tyson can be found below.

The health and safety of our team members, their families and communities is our top priority, and we continue to take all precautions to protect them.

As a result, Tyson has made the voluntary decision to temporarily halt operations at our Storm Lake, Iowa pork processing facility. This is due in part to a delay in COVID-19 testing results and team member absences related to quarantine and other factors. We will idle harvesting animals and finish processing over the next two days. Additional deep cleaning and sanitizing of the entire facility will be conducted before resuming operations later next week.

The company is working closely with local health officials and has completed COVID-19 testing of team members and contractors at the plant. Tyson will share verified test results, once complete data is available, with health and government officials, team members and other stakeholders as part of our efforts to help communities where we operate better understand the coronavirus and the protective measures that can be taken to help prevent its spread.

When operations resume, team members at Tyson’s Storm Lake facility will continue to have access to additional testing, daily clinical symptom screenings, nurse practitioners and enhanced education through Matrix Medical which has a mobile unit onsite. These programs are in addition to a host of protective measures Tyson has put in place that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19. The steps we have taken include:

– Conducting wellness health screening of all team members each time they arrive at the facility, checking for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath in addition to continuing to check team members’ temperature.
– Providing surgical-style face masks to every team member and requiring they are worn.
– Requiring face shields in addition to face masks in the limited areas where neither barriers nor six-foot physical separation is practical.
– Installing widespread hand sanitizer stations throughout our plants.
– Designating additional dedicated social distance monitors stationed throughout the facility during all shifts to help ensure team members adhere to safety protocols and social distancing requirements.
– Increasing short-term disability coverage to 90% of normal pay until June 30 to encourage team members to stay home when they are sick.
– Doubling our “thank you” bonus for frontline workers to $120 million. Team members who cannot come to work because of illness or childcare issues related to COVID-19 will continue to qualify.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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