By Joey Aguirre, courtesy of Iowa Starting Line
More than 700 workers at the Tyson meatpacking plant in Perry have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data released today by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
During Gov. Kim Reynolds’ daily press conference, the state released testing data for five meatpacking plants in Iowa. At the Tyson plant in Perry, 730 of the total plant employees have tested positive for COVID-19 — 58 percent of the workforce.
In Waterloo, the Tyson plant has 444 confirmed COVID-19 tests (39% of the workforce). The Tyson plant in Columbus Junction has 221 positive COVID-19 tests (26 percent of the workforce).
Iowa Premium National Beef in Tama has 258 confirmed COVID-19 cases (39 percent of its workforce). TPI Composites in Newton, a wind turbine manufacturer, has 131 positive tests (13 percent of its workforce).
The data released Tuesday confirms what many Perry residents had been fearing all along — that there was widespread workplace and community spread of COVID-19 in Perry.
The Tyson meatpacking plant in Perry has confirmed multiple cases of COVID-19 but has refused to say how many or release information about the extent of COVID-19 in its Perry plant, despite doing so with its Columbus Junction plant.
Local officials in Perry were growing increasingly frustrated with Tyson’s lack of transparency as the county’s cases soared. Dallas County now has 613 cases, the sixth-highest in the state, while nearby Polk County has seen their confirmed positives spike as well.
On Monday, Tyson Foods issued a warning that it expects more temporary plant closures in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyson said it expects to continue facing slowdowns and temporary pausing of production because of worker shortages and updates to safety measures for workers.