COLUMBUS JUNCTION, IOWA – Tyson Foods Inc. officials confirmed the death of two workers employed at its Columbus Junction pork processing plant following an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) at the plant, which has been idle since April 6. Initially the plant closed due to 24 employees becoming infected and when an additional 86 workers tested positive the company announced the closure would extend through the week of April 13. The plant employs 1,300 workers.
“We’re deeply saddened by the loss of two team members from our Columbus Junction plant,” the company said. “Their families are in our thoughts and prayers.
“We continue working diligently to protect our team members at facilities across the country by taking worker temperatures, requiring protective face coverings and conducting additional cleaning and sanitizing. We’re implementing social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers, spreading out workstations where possible, and providing more break room space.”
To more efficiently and safely check the temperature of all workers, Tyson announced on April 13, that it invested in more than 150 infrared walk-through temperature scanners. The company said the scanners have been installed at its pork plants in Iowa and Indiana and two of its poultry facilities in Arkansas and Georgia. It plans to eventually have systems installed at all of its facilities.
On April 15, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said the total number positive cases in the state was 1,899. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 was 53, as of April 14.