591 Workers At Tyson Pork Plant Test Positive For Covid-19. Is That Bad? It Sounds Like It Could Be Bad.​
Pieter Brueghel the younger, 'Autumn.' Disclaimer: The persons depicted are not Tyson Foods employees.

Testing of workers at a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, revealed that 591 workers have been infected with the coronavirus, the company announced Tuesday. That works out to roughly a quarter of the plant's 2,303 workers who were tested.

And just in case you think checking people's temperatures as they enter and leave workplaces is a terrific screening measure, there's this, from the Sioux City Journal:

Tyson said in a statement that more than 75 percent of the workers who tested positive didn't show any symptoms and otherwise wouldn't have been identified.

The plant had been closed since last Thursday, when the Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed there was a COVID-19 outbreak at the plant. That in itself is something of a news event, since under the arbitrary nutso rules put in place under Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-Duh), the public health authorities will only inform the public of outbreaks at meatpacking plants after 10 percent of workers become infected. 25 percent is a whole heck of a lot more than 10, so we guess it's a real outbreak, then. The plant was scheduled to re-open yesterday after "deep cleaning."

There's no public health or medical rationale for that rule, but it definitely makes sure no one worries about viral outbreaks in beloved profit-making plants until there's significant spread among workers. It's not like they ever leave the plants for the communities where they work. Besides, we all know they're just getting sick in their gross immigrant homes anyway, so why would anyone blame the immaculate slaughterhouses where they're all jammed together?

Not surprisingly, Tyson Foods did what it could to polish up that infected pig doot. The company's statement on the outrageous number of people who got sick framed the release of data as a real big public service:

"Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we continue to take strong action to ensure they feel protected in their community and when they come to work," Tom Brower, senior vice president of health and safety for Tyson Foods, said in the statement. "As in Storm Lake, we are routinely finding high levels of asymptomatic positives when we test widely at our plants and because of that, we can do a public service by sharing the results with the local community."

The Sioux City Journal at least tried to put those numbers in some perspective for the local community:

The vast majority of the plant's workers reside in Buena Vista County, which had 854 total cases of the virus as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, an increase of 44 from Monday, and also reported its first COVID-19-related death. If all of the workers who tested positive lived in Buena Vista County, they would account for roughly 70 percent of the Northwest Iowa county's total cases.

Mind you, that's a bit of an "if" because what is contract tracing and transparency, even? Not to worry! That paragraph was immediately followed — we'd like to think the irony was intentional — by a statement from Storm Lake City Manager Keri Navratil, who positively praised the local employer for its beneficence.

We are thankful for the efforts of Tyson Foods' management and team members to ensure the safety of employees as they continue in the best manner possible to process food for our country. [...] We know that the efforts to protect Tyson team members also protect their families and, in turn, our other residents.

Following that burst of boosterism, Ms. Navratil was presumably returned to the packing case she came in from the factory in Stepford, Connecticut.

This is far from the first huge outbreak at an Iowa Tyson plant in recent days; late last week, testing at the company's largest beef processing facility, in Dakota City, revealed 786 active COVID-19 cases, which amounted to about 17 percent of the plant's 4,500 workers. The Sioux City Journal noted that was the first specific number of cases released for the plant, although the company had previously "acknowledged some Dakota City workers testing positive for the novel coronavirus[.]"

A Tyson spokesperson, Gary Mickelson, told the Journal

the company does not have a cumulative number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, citing a number of obstacles in obtaining such data from multiple jurisdictions and medical providers. The plant's employees and contractors live in 11 counties throughout the tri-state region.

Honestly, do we really need to know things? It's not like knowing actually changes anything.

All in all, everything's just great in our very strong meat processing sector and America is returning to greatness with the very best employment numbers, but if you're out protesting this week, make sure you wear a goddamn mask because it really upsets Donald Trump. Remain calm. All is well.

[Sioux City Journal / Des Moines Register / Sioux City Journal]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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