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More than 22 percent of the employees at a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Iowa have tested positive for coronavirus, the Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed Thursday.
Testing recently administered to workers at the facility, which is located in Storm Lake, resulted in 555 employees testing positive out of 2,517, the Des Moines Register reported, citing the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).
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Over the past few months, Tyson Foods facilities across the country have been forced to temporarily shutter following outbreaks of COVID-19, or staffing shortages caused by the pandemic. In late April, company chairman John H. Tyson even took out full-page ads in The New York Times, Washington Post and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to outline the company’s response to the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. At the time, he also stated that further closures — not only of Tyson Foods facilities, but competitors’ facilities as well — would put more stress on the nation’s food supply.
“The food supply chain is breaking,” he warned.
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Sarah Reisetter, the deputy director of IDPH, said Iowa businesses are being asked to report coronavirus outbreaks once they affect over 10 percent of that company’s workforce. Earlier this week, Reisetter had added that the IDPH would not be issuing public notices about major outbreaks at Iowa companies, but rather that the information would be available upon request from members of the media, the Des Moines Register reported.
“We’ve determined confirming outbreaks at businesses is only necessary when the employment setting constitutes a high-risk environment for the potential of COVID-19 transmission,” she said, per the outlet.
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A representative for Tyson Foods was not immediately available to comment on the current status of employees at the Storm Lake plant, or the operational status of the facility.
In past weeks, Tyson Foods has, however, released the COVID-19 testing results at several different facilities across the country. Test results from the Storm Lake facility will be made public next week, a Tyson Foods spokesperson told the Register.
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Tyson Foods had previously shuttered plants in Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, Washington and Maine, among others, though most have since resumed production.