Officials at Tyson Fresh Meats’ plant in Dakota City remain firm in their refusal to release the number of employees who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, in spite of a report Friday by the Sioux City Journal that notes 669 workers have tested positive for the virus since testing started less than a month ago.
The meat-processing plant closed temporarily on Wednesday and will remain so until deep cleaning of the plant is finished on Monday, when most of its 4,300-worker team is expected to return to duties.
The Journal reported in its Friday editions that an anonymous source stated that 669 workers have tested positive for the virus, this despite numerous refusals by Tyson executives to disclose the number of employees who have tested positive.
When asked for comment by the Star Friday, Tyson communications manager Liz Croston neither confirmed, nor denied, the Journal’s reported numbers.
“We are not able to share numbers,” she replied in an e-mail request for comment.
Many of the employees of Tyson Fresh Meats are residents of Dakota County and neighboring Woodbury County in Iowa. Both counties have seen their number of positive tests explode during the past couple of weeks. In Dakota County, the first positive test reports showed up on Easter Sunday, April 12, and have exploded in the past two weeks. Friday’s latest announcement of 164 new cases brings the county’s total to 942 trails only Hall County in central Nebraska, which has more than 1,000 cases and has publicized numbers to local media from a meat processing plant based in Grand Island.
Dakota County’s numbers are ahead of Douglas County, the most-populated county in Nebraska with a population base more than 28 times the size of Dakota County.