Tyson Foods Suspending Operations At Waterloo Plant
Tyson Foods is indefinitely suspending operations at the fresh meats plant in Waterloo.
The company said in a news release Wednesday morning that Tyson plans to shut down production at the local pork plant this week. According to Tyson officials, production will stop mid-week, until further notice. Affected employees will be paid while the plant is closed.
The Waterloo plant has been linked to an outbreak of the coronavirus. Nearly 200 of Black Hawk County's 374 cases are related to the outbreak.
"Protecting our team members is our top priority and the reason we've implemented numerous safety measures during this challenging and unprecedented time," said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats. "Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfulling 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."
Local and state officials have been pushing for the shutdown to allow employees to be tested and crews to deep clean the facility to combat a coronavirus outbreak that's blamed for causing almost half of Black Hawk County's nearly 400 cases. The county's health board held a special meeting Tuesday morning and voted to issue a proclamation, urging Tyson Foods to temporarily shutter the plant.
Company officials said everyone who works at the Waterloo plant be invited to come to the facility later this week for COVID-19 testing. The Waterloo facility has around 2,800 employees, making it Tyson's largest pork plant.
In the press release, company officials said the facility has been operating at reduced levels of production due to worker absenteeism linked to the coronavirus outbreak at the plant.
"The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company, since the plant is part of a larger supply chain that includes hundred of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers," Stouffer said in the news release. "It means the loss of a vital market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation's pork supply."
Company officials did not indicate when the facility might reopen. They said the resumption of operations will depend on several factors, including the outcome of employee testing for COVID-19.