Tyson Plant

The Tyson plant in Columbus Junction.

COLUMBUS JUNCTION — As the coronavirus continues to sweep throughout Louisa County, it has now claimed the lives of two Tyson employees working at the meatpacking plant. The company says they give their condolences to the team members’ families and friends.

“We’re deeply saddened by the loss of two team members at our Columbus Junction plant,” said Liz Croston, a spokesperson for Tyson. “Their families are in our thoughts and prayers”

The plant shut its doors last week and has been closed ever since. It is the center of the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county. Over 180 employees at the plant have tested positive for the coronavirus so far. Croston says they are doing everything they can to create a safe working environment for their team members.

“We continue working diligently to protect our team members at facilities across the country by taking worker temperatures, requiring protective face coverings and conducting additional cleaning and sanitizing,” Croston said.

“We’re implementing social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers, spreading out work stations where possible, and providing more break room spaces.”

Nevertheless, many of the workers are expressing their concerns about returning to the plant as the spread of the virus seems to be increasing. Croston says they are encouraging their team members to reach out and voice what they are concerned about so they can address it.

But not everyone is happy with Tyson’s response. With many of the workers at the plant being of Latino and Hispanic descent, the League of United Latin American Citizens says it has warned the meatpacking plant that workers need more personal protective equipment, sick days and health checks. Additionally, LULAC says workers are scared to return to work and do not want to spread the virus to their families.

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