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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: 662213

Reported Deaths: 12595
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion907061645
Lake48425878
Allen35861636
Hamilton32099397
St. Joseph29996512
Elkhart25386415
Vanderburgh21247378
Tippecanoe20024201
Johnson16349360
Porter15975270
Hendricks15825300
Clark11965181
Madison11746318
Vigo11612229
Monroe10333161
Delaware9838179
LaPorte9772196
Howard9056197
Kosciusko8562110
Bartholomew7456147
Warrick7416151
Hancock7409131
Floyd7207169
Wayne6633191
Grant6427157
Morgan6092125
Boone609088
Dubois5910111
Dearborn547467
Cass544499
Marshall5425104
Henry542393
Noble509378
Jackson464767
Shelby460690
Lawrence4184112
Gibson401281
Harrison399864
Clinton395853
Montgomery387083
DeKalb385278
Knox357485
Miami357463
Whitley349436
Huntington344476
Steuben338355
Wabash331476
Putnam330559
Ripley327161
Adams323549
Jasper316143
White297352
Jefferson294973
Daviess285396
Fayette271956
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260931
Wells258275
Scott250350
Clay241444
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217330
Jennings215244
Washington211227
Sullivan203439
Fountain201542
Starke188151
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177828
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164822
Vermillion160542
Franklin159435
Tipton146441
Parke139316
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown95039
Benton92013
Crawford90713
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7548
Union67110
Ohio53711
Unassigned0433

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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