Logansport’s Tyson pork processing plant isn’t the only meatpacking plant to face a coronavirus outbreak. Dozens of plants across the country have been among the nation’s hottest hotspots.
The eight worst virus outbreaks in the country are all tied either to prisons or meat processing plants. One of every 24 people in Cass County has tested positive for the virus after Tyson workers began getting sick. In Delphi, Indiana Packers closed for 13 days as a precaution and tested all its workers and contractors — 300 came back positive, some without symptoms.
Brigid Kelly with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700, which represents the Tyson plant, says the typical layout of meatpacking plants is different from other factories, even other food processors. Workers are shoulder-to-shoulder, eliminating the social distancing critical to minimizing the virus’s spread.
The Logansport and Delphi pork plants both reopened last week with new precautions. Kelly says the union has worked with Tyson to implement Plexiglas dividers between workstations, changes to the breakroom, masks and sanitizer for employees, and more frequent cleaning. Indiana Packers says it’s taken similar measures, and is staggering work shifts and break times so fewer people are in one place at the same time.