CORONAVIRUS

Two workers die after coronavirus outbreak at Iowa pork plant

Dozens from Tyson's Columbus Junction plant test positive

Protesters from PETA hold signs April 9 in Columbus Junction to protest the Tyson Foods pork processing plant there. The
Protesters from PETA hold signs April 9 in Columbus Junction to protest the Tyson Foods pork processing plant there. The company temporarily closed the facility after a coronavirus outbreak. The company said Wednesday two of the employees died. (Gretchen Teske/Southeast Iowa Union)

Two employees have died following a coronavirus outbreak that has sickened scores of Tyson Foods workers at a Southeast Iowa pork processing plant, the company said Wednesday.

The deaths of the workers at the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction are the first known to be linked to an outbreak at a meatpacking plant in Iowa.

The company said it was “deeply saddened by the loss of two team members” and that their families were in its thoughts and prayers.

The plant has been idled since April 6, when Tyson announced more than two dozen workers were infected. The company later said it would continue the plant’s suspension after more workers tested positive.

Louisa County, a rural area of 11,000 residents, announced Wednesday that Tyson workers account for 148 of 166 virus cases in the county

Gov. Kim Reynolds said testing of the plant’s 1,400 workers was continuing this week. The state sent a rapid-testing machine to the county and enough materials to test 900 more employees and others, she said.

The goal is to understand the scope of the outbreak as Tyson works to reopen the plant as early as next week, Reynolds said.

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The governor said she was working with federal officials and business leaders to prevent additional outbreaks at Iowa food processing plants.

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