US meat giant Tyson Foods is to resume operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, facility – its largest pork-processing plant that was hit by a number of Covid-19 cases.
In an announcement, Tyson said the site will re-open following a “comprehensive review” of safety protocols by local health and government officials and a tour of the plant by, amongst others, local trade union officials.
Limited production at the facility will resume on Thursday (7 May).
Tyson temporarily suspended slaughtering operations at Waterloo on 22 April amid claims a spike in Covid-19 cases locally was linked to staff at the facility testing positive.
Media reports, unconfirmed by Tyson, suggested 444 workers at the plant tested positive for the virus and two had died.
On the plans to re-open, plant manager Tom Hart said: “Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, their loved ones and our communities.”
Tyson has partnered with Matrix Medical Network, a medical clinical services company, to establish an on-site clinic to provide employees with services including diagnostic (PCR) testing for Covid-19, daily clinical screenings and access to nurse practitioners.
All employees returning to work will have been tested for Covid-19 and any worker who has tested positive will remain on sick leave until released by health officials. Workers who have not been tested will be unable to return and all new hires will be tested prior to starting work.
Tyson said that while the plant was idle, the company performed an additional deep clean and sanitisation of the entire facility.
US President Donald Trump last week issued an executive order for meat plants to stay open in an attempt to secure the nation’s food supply.