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Sheriff & Black Hawk County officials urge closure of slaughterhouse amid COVID-19

Black Hawk County announces first death in the county and an outbreak at Waterloo Tyson Foods
Black Hawk County announces first death in the county and an outbreak at Waterloo Tyson Foods(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 3:34 PM CDT
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An Iowa sheriff is urging Tyson Foods to temporarily shut down its plant in Waterloo as coronavirus cases spike in Black Hawk County.

The Des Moines Register reports Sheriff Tony Thompson says he's concerned that COVID-19 will overrun his community even more if the Tyson Foods plant doesn't take proper precautions.

He says they need to deep clean that facility and restart it on a clean slate. His comments came shortly before Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that 138 people had tested positive for the virus and one person has died with the virus in Black Hawk County.

Elected leaders in Black Hawk County also released a letter to Tyson Foods Inc. asking them to shut down the facility due to the outbreak.

Read the full letter below:

To Tyson Foods Inc,

We the undersigned elected officials of Black Hawk County, Iowa call upon the Tyson Foods, Inc. to take all steps necessary for immediate mitigation of the risk to our community and your employees from an outbreak of COVID-19 at your Waterloo operation. We understand that these are extraordinary times, but steps must be taken to ensure the safety and well-beings of Tyson’s valuable employees and our community.

There is now an outbreak of positive cases of COVID-19 at the Tyson’s Waterloo operation. We ask that you voluntarily cease operations on a temporary basis at your Waterloo facility so that appropriate cleaning and mitigation strategies can take place and be in place for a resumption of production. We also ask that you take this step to allow test results to catch-up and the data to be collected so that community health care practitioners can get a handle on this situation. The state of Iowa is now sending over 1,500 test kits for test needed in relationship to the Tyson Foods, Inc. Waterloo operation, we ask that you fully participate with this state in the critical testing operation, test are of limited supply and it is important that this be done right. This outbreak at a facility of your size puts great risk to the safety and wellbeing all residents in our community, especially the elderly and vulnerable. We ask that when you do re-open to practice all available social distancing, screening, and deep cleaning practices available. This will mitigate the risk that our local health care system is not overwhelmed while simultaneously working towards ensuring sustainable production in the future.

We do not make this request lightly; we understand the importance of this facility in our national food chain and the cascading effect our requested closure would have on your supply networks. However, we must all come together at this time to do what is best for the long-term safety and health of our community.

Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz

Waterloo Mayor Quinten Hart

Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green

Black Hawk County Supervisor Tom Little

Black Hawk County Supervisor Linda Laylin

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson

La Porte City Mayor Dave Neil

Gilbertville Mayor Mark Thome

Hudson Mayor George Wessel

Raymond Mayor Gary Vick

Evansdale Mayor Troy Beatty

Dunkerton Mayor Mike Schares

Waterloo City Councilperson Jonathan Grieder

State Senator Bill Dotzler (Waterloo)

State Representative Bob Kessing (Cedar Falls)

State Representative Timi Brown-Powers (Waterloo)

State Representative Ras Smith (Waterloo)

State Representative Dave Williams (Cedar Falls)

State Senator Eric Giddens (Cedar Falls)

Waterloo City Councilperson Pat Morrissey