Tyson Fresh Meats has announced plans to indefinitely suspend operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant “mid-week until further notice."
The plant is one of the city's largest employers, with some 3,000 workers, many of them immigrants and people of color who don't have the best access to health care.
The announcement comes as local officials in Black Hawk County, Iowa, had urged the plant to close voluntarily after a suspected outbreak of Covid-19.
“Protecting our team members is our top priority and the reason we’ve implemented numerous safety measures during this challenging and unprecedented time,” Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats said in a statement. “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.”
The Black Hawk County health department announced Tuesday that 182 of the county's 374 cases are linked to the Tyson Waterloo plant.
The Board of Health voted yesterday to pass a proclamation urging Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Tyson Foods to temporarily close the Waterloo plant for deep cleaning and to test employees.
Last week, two dozen local and state elected officials — including Waterloo's Mayor — sent a letter formally requesting Tyson shut down the plant due to the outbreak. Mayor Quentin Hart told CNN he was afraid if action wasn't taken soon, his city could be the "next hot spot."