ROCK ISLAND, ILL. – Rock Island County Health Department (RICHD) announced on April 29 that the Tyson Fresh Meats beef plant in Joslin, III., had an outbreak of COVID-19.

The notice said that there were at least 92 cases and two COVID-19 related deaths of Rock Island County residents that work at the Tyson facility. The health department stated that employees of Tyson live in other IIIinois counties and counties in Iowa but that it is the responsibility of the employee’s home county to follow up on cases. Currently, Rock Island County reported 426 total coronavirus cases.

“The meatpacking industry is inherently prone to COVID-19 cases because employees work in close proximity to each other,” said Nita Ludwig, administrator of the RICHD. “Our team has been working with Tyson managers for several weeks to work on mitigation efforts to reduce the number of cases, and the Tyson team has been taking our advice to heart.”

Ludwig acknowledged that Tyson Foods has placed barriers between workers and has staggered shifts and lunch schedules to reduce the number of employees congregating together.

As of April 30, Tyson Fresh Meats has temporarily stopped production at beef plants in Dakota City, Neb., and its Pasco, Wash., plant. Pork facilities have also been temporarily closed in Logansport, Ind., and Waterloo, Iowa.