Two workers at southeast Iowa pork plant die of COVID-19

Two employees at a pork processing plant in Columbus Junction have died, the company confirms, as the facility deals with an outbreak of COVID-19.

A spokeswoman for Tyson Foods said the company is “deeply saddened” to confirm the deaths of two team members, adding “their families are in our thoughts and prayers.” On Tuesday, Governor Kim Reynolds announced the plant was the site of an outbreak and Reynolds mentioned the facility during her Wednesday morning news conference.

“We are also sending an additional 900 tests to the Tyson plant in Louisa County and this will be in additional to the 200 tests that were sent last week,” Reynolds said.

The plant in southeast Iowa’s Louisa County has been shut down since April 6th after the company announced more than two dozen workers tested positive for COVID-19. Reynolds was asked this morning if there are plans to conduct mass testing of workers at other food processing plants in the state.

“Yes there is,” Reynolds replied. “We have 18 packing and food processing plants throughout the state of Iowa and as I’ve indicated we’ve made initial contacts with them. The Department of Ag does site visits and inspections with the USDA to all of these sites.”

The beef processing plant in Tama was shut down after several workers there tested positive for COVID-19. There is also an outbreak at a Tama County nursing home, Premier Estates in Toledo. Test results through this morning had confirmed 111 cases of COVID-19 in Tama County, and three residents in the county have died of the disease.