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.

Confirmed Cases: 112626

Reported Deaths: 3520
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20832759
Lake10292318
Elkhart6415109
St. Joseph6156102
Allen6029200
Hamilton4724109
Vanderburgh344530
Hendricks2673122
Monroe247436
Tippecanoe226913
Johnson2268123
Clark215056
Porter207845
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo178123
Madison159575
LaPorte137739
Floyd131461
Howard128563
Kosciusko120217
Warrick119936
Bartholomew115357
Marshall98924
Dubois95418
Boone95146
Hancock91143
Grant89133
Noble89132
Henry77024
Wayne74414
Jackson7409
Morgan70038
Shelby66529
Daviess64427
Dearborn63228
LaGrange63111
Clinton59212
Harrison56024
Putnam53710
Lawrence50528
Montgomery50521
Knox5019
Gibson4854
White48114
DeKalb45611
Decatur45439
Miami4263
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3862
Steuben3707
Scott35610
Sullivan33012
Jennings31212
Posey3060
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28524
Ripley2838
Carroll27013
Wabash2618
Washington2611
Starke2537
Whitley2526
Wells2482
Adams2453
Jefferson2443
Fulton2342
Huntington2223
Tipton21722
Spencer2153
Perry21413
Randolph2087
Jay1730
Newton17111
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1524
Pike1401
Vermillion1260
Fountain1182
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland700
Warren391
Unassigned0225

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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