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Black Hawk County reports nearly 300 new coronavirus cases in three-day span

The Tyson Foods processing plant in Waterloo on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)
The Tyson Foods processing plant in Waterloo on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 23, 2020 at 9:10 PM CDT
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In just three days, nearly 300 new people in Black Hawk County have tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Monday, the county had 354 cases and three deaths; on Thursday, it reported the count was up to 622 cases and seven deaths.

The Black Hawk County Health Department said more than 90% of the county’s cases are linked to the outbreak at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Waterloo, though they don't have an exact number of cases that are linked. Tyson announced Wednesday that the plant

.

“We’ve been in communication, but it hasn’t been about reopening,” Nafissa Cisse-Egbuonye, the director of the Black Hawk County Health Department, said. “It’s more about testing and making sure that the employees are tested, and my biggest concerns have been about what are the next steps to ensure safety of the employees.”

About 2,700 people work at the plant, and Cisse-Egbuonye said the state would be testing those workers.

“There is communication out that came from Tyson indicating that the testing would be happening Friday and Saturday. However, I have not received confirmation from that state that that’s what the plan is,” she said.

On Thursday, another Waterloo workplace,

, announced its facility will be closed after an employee tested positive. The company plans to reopen May 4.

Cisse-Egbuonye said overall, Black Hawk County is seeing a surge of cases right now.

“I’m not seeing these numbers are not going down,” she said. “They’re increasing, and so this is very serious. I want everybody to do their best to stay at home.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state is going to use information from its new Test Iowa initiative to determine where to set up additional drive-thru testing sites, though she didn’t say where the initial locations, outside a site to open this weekend in Des Moines, would be.

“As we bring in the data and we see those that should be tested, we can kind of see where some of those pockets are at, and that’s where it would make more sense for us to set up the test site and really identify an area that we’re concerned with,” Reynolds said.

Black Hawk County Emergency Management said Thursday that one of those sites is coming to its community.

"We are looking at getting a test Iowa site in Waterloo, and that site should be here early next week and be ready to go for operations,” Emergency Management Coordinator Lorie Glover said, noting they were working with other agencies, including the Iowa National Guard and Iowa State Patrol, to make that happen.