CORONAVIRUS

Iowa beef plant in Tama suspends operations after workers get coronavirus

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig toured Iowa Premium in Tama, Iowa, on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Naig toured the be
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig toured Iowa Premium in Tama, Iowa, on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Naig toured the beef processing plant as part of a water quality tour. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

TAMA — A beef processing plant in one of Iowa’s coronavirus hot spots has suspended production after several workers have become infected.

National Beef announced its Iowa Premium plant in Tama will be idled until April 20.

The company said numerous employees had contracted COVID-19 and others were exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

It’s the second meat processing plant in Iowa to suspend operations after workers have become infected. Tyson Foods last week idled its Columbus Junction pork plant.

National Beef, which is based in Kansas City, bought the Tama plant last year. At the time, it had about 850 employees. The plant processes cornfed beef raised on farms in Iowa and neighboring states, boxing products for domestic and international markets.

The company said it was taking several steps to stop the spread of the virus and keep employees safe at its plants. Those include daily sanitizing and disinfection, temperature screenings, increased social distancing in common areas, and voluntary use of disposable face masks.

Tama County has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic in Iowa, with 86 confirmed cases and two deaths as of Sunday. It also is the site of one of the state’s three confirmed nursing home outbreaks, at Premier Estates of Toledo.

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