Indiana meatpacking plant reopens after virus outbreak

Workers began returning Thursday to a northern Indiana meatpacking plant that was closed for nearly two weeks by a coronavirus outbreak among employees.

Posted: May 8, 2020 9:31 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Workers began returning Thursday to a northern Indiana meatpacking plant that was closed for nearly two weeks by a coronavirus outbreak among employees.

State officials also warned those eager to resume normal activities that the coronavirus spread could turn for the worse again with the lifting of many business restrictions.

TYSON PLANT REOPENS

The Tyson Foods plant in Logansport resumed limited production after undergoing a deep cleaning, installation of plexiglass workstation barriers and other measures, company spokeswoman Hli Yang said. Tests have confirmed COVID-19 infections among nearly 900 of the plant’s 2,200 employees.

Meat processing plants across the country are cautiously reopening after President Donald Trump’s executive order last week classified them as critical infrastructure.

The union representing the Logansport plant workers called on Gov. Eric Holcomb to take steps enforcing physical distancing, mandating two weeks paid quarantine time for workers with potential COVID-19 exposure and not allowing retaliation against workers who raise safety complaints.

Holcomb didn’t address the union’s statement when asked about it during his daily briefing Thursday.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said her agency had worked with Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson on improving safety at the plant.

“I do know that they have instituted pretty much every measure that we asked them to do,” Box said.

Cass County, which includes Logansport, has nearly 1,500 confirmed coronavirus cases, with an infection rate that is five times greater than any other county in the state. Two COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in the county. A stay-at-home order remains in effect in the county because of the outbreak even as business restrictions have been eased across most of Indiana.

Yang said Tyson workers who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus “will remain on sick leave until they have satisfied official health requirements outlined by the CDC for return to work.”

FRESH FLAREUPS

The new order from Holcomb that took effect Monday lifted many business and travel restrictions for most of the state. Box on Thursday urged residents to remain vigilant in steps such as distancing from others and wearing masks when out in public.

“We expect that the cases will go up when we start to open things up,” Box said. “That is why we are protecting our must vulnerable populations so that, hopefully, we don’t experience those severe morbidity or mortality associated with the cases.”

Holcomb maintains that despite the state’s more than 1,400 COVID-19 related deaths since mid-March that a gradual reopening can happen as long as hospitals have the capacity to treat those seriously ill.

“We don’t know how long this will be with us, but I’m guessing through the end of the year and maybe beyond that,” he said.

LATEST TOLL

Indiana health officials added 31 confirmed and six presumed coronavirus-related fatalities to the state’s death toll on Thursday, putting the state over 1,400 fatalities.

Most of the newly reported COVID-19 deaths occurred Tuesday or Wednesday, but one dated to April 21, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That puts the April 21 total at 47 deaths, tying it with the following day for the deadliest for coronavirus reported by the state.

The state statistics list 1,295 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, along with 119 probable deaths. Those are deaths that state officials said doctors blame on coronavirus infections without confirmation of the illness from test results.

JOBLESS CLAIMS

Almost 44,000 people applied for unemployment benefits in Indiana last week from business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Indiana has had about 612,000 people seek jobless aid over the past seven weeks, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics released Thursday. Last week’s 43,777 initial applications were the fewest the state has received during that period — but still about 15 times more than Indiana’s weekly pace before widespread business shutdowns began in mid-March.

Nationally, roughly 33.5 million people have sought unemployment aid in the past seven weeks. That is the equivalent of one in five Americans who had been employed back in February, when the unemployment rate had reached a 50-year low of just 3.5%.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

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