Iowa congressman seeks clarity on Tyson’s COVID-19 cases

Iowa congressman seeks clarity on Tyson’s COVID-19 cases

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Report shows discrepancies in the number of novel coronavirus cases reported by Tyson, public health officials

Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-2nd) has sent a letter to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds seeking answers after an Associated Press report revealed discrepancies in the number of reported COVID-19 cases at a Tyson pork processing plant in Columbus Junction.

In a July 22 report, the Associated Press said the Iowa Department of Public Health had announced that 221 employees at the plant had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This was after Tyson reported to the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration that 522 employees had been infected, including about a dozen who were hospitalized. Two workers from the facility died and operations there were suspended on April 6 “due to more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 involving team members at the facility.” Limited operations resumed on April 21.

“The employees working at these plants play a critical role in maintaining the stability of our nation’s food supply and agricultural sector,” Loebsack said in his letter to Reynolds. “I am deeply concerned that by concealing information about the true extent of the virus’ spread, the IDPH only served to further risk the health and safety of these essential workers, and in doing so, the health and safety of their families and the entire surrounding community. Our communities must have access to the most accurate, up-to-date information available in order to take the correct steps necessary to slow the spread of the virus and protect as many individuals as possible from contracting this disease.”

Loebsack asked Reynolds’ office to respond to several questions regarding data from the Columbus Junction plant and reporting methods.

A Tyson spokesperson has not responded to Feed Strategy’s request for comment, but told the Associated Press that “the number of infections announced by the state appeared to reflect only the first round of testing at the plant and that additional testing had uncovered hundreds of more cases.”

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