Waterloo Tyson plant to remain closed despite President Executive Order to open

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. 30, 2020 at 9:45 PM CDT
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Black Hawk County leaders said opening the Tyson Fresh Meat plant in Waterloo back up too soon could make the whole county vulnerable to further coronavirus spread.

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to keep meatpacking plants open to protect the nation's food supply. Black Hawk County had its first coronavirus case on March 18th and since then the number of cases has grown to more than 1,300.

Tyson employees said the company didn't do enough to protect, County leaders addressed the executive order Thursday. The doors to the Tyson Waterloo plant are closed as leaders attribute a large number of cases stemming from working closely with others.

“We can say that 90% of the cases have been attributed or related to the Tyson plant,” said Black Hawk County Public Health Director Nafissa Cisse. I think the thing to keep in mind is that it might not be a direct Tyson case contact but it might be somebody a second exposure.”

Cisse Egbuonye says the number of cases Thursday was nearly 1,400.

“These numbers that I’m sharing with you all are people who are loved and people, who have names, they have families and stories,” she said.

It’s a jump that Sheriff Tony Thompson said now threatens the most vulnerable of people in the county.

“Our fight today has changed and it’s changed dramatically simply because the initial line of defense has changed,” said Sheriff Thompson. “It has migrated because we lost our first line of defense out there in the community. We have a huge hole blown in that first line of defense and it’s frustrating because it put at greater risk all of our citizens and Blackhawk County.”

Despite the President’s order to keep meatpacking plants open, Cisse Egbuonye said the plant will be temporarily closed with no set date to reopen. She said they will be inspecting the plant before they reopen for business.

“We’ve been preparing before the first confirmed case on March 18," she said. “Our goal is to always ensure that that we have enough test kits to be able to test the individuals that are in need and, secondly, I’ve been in communication with the state in terms of always having those resources.”