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.
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.”