Tyson Suspends Operations at Iowa Plant Due to Virus

Tyson Foods this week plans to suspend operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant. Workers can come back later this week for covid-19 testing.
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Tyson Foods TSN said its beef and pork subsidiary, Tyson Fresh Meats, plans to indefinitely suspend operations at its Waterloo, Iowa pork plant this week. 

The facility, Tyson's largest pork plant, has been running at reduced levels of production due to worker absenteeism amid questions about safety from coronavirus at the plant. 

"Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, covid-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production," said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats.

The company said the move would interrupt a "vital market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation's pork supply."

The company also said that workers will continue to be compensated while the plant is closed. 

Last week, the company said that it was requiring all team members to wear face covers in all Tyson Foods facilities.

Tyson Foods expects its current supply of face masks to last up to four months. 

"We learned in late February of the potential shortage of masks and have since been working to obtain a supply of face coverings for our team members," the company said. 

Tyson said that plants like Waterloo have installed workstation dividers and are providing more break-room space in order to combat the spread of the deadly virus. 

And the Springdale, Ark., company is taking the temperatures of its workers.

"Tyson Foods' other meat and poultry plants currently continue to operate, but some are running at reduced levels of production either due to the planned implementation of additional worker safety precautions or worker absenteeism,: the company said.