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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 4.20.20: Pork Production Concerns, Woodbury County Cases Surge and RAGBRAI Postponed

Undisclosed Location

Gov. Kim Reynolds says Iowa’s meatpacking plants will stay open.

She warns shutting them down would be devastating for farmers and the food supply.

“At some point we’re going to be talking about euthanizing hogs and we’re not that far from it.” 

On Monday, the state confirmed four new death and 257 new cases for a total of 3,100.

Woodbury County saw the biggest one day jump in cases of COVID-19.  There are 32 new positives for a total of 75.  More than a third are between the ages of 18 and 40.

Siouxland District Health says state law prohibits the release of information that would identify a person or business with an illness.

Siouxland Public Media contacted Tyson to see if any employees in Siouxland have tested positive at either plant in Dakota City or Storm Lake.

A spokesperson says the company does have confirmed cases of team members at some locations but because this is an ever-changing situation, they’re not sharing specific numbers. 

Tyson says they have been checking worker temperatures when they arrive at the facility.  They’re mandating and providing face covering and initiated additional cleaning.  They also put social distancing measures into place, such as installing workstation dividers.  They eased their attendance policy last month to encourage workers to stay at home when they’re sick.  And sick employees will stay on leave until they are released by health officials to return to work.

When asked how the pandemic has impacted production Tyson says the company does not provide that information because of competitive reasons.

Last week, Seaboard Triumph reported one employee tested positive for the coronavirus and the person has not reported to work since being tested.

RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa that draws tens of thousands of riders, will not happen this year due to COVID-19. 


The 48th annual ride was scheduled for the last week of July, starting in Le Mars and ending in Clinton.

Organizers said in a statement that they didn’t want to put the crew, riders or residents along the route at risk for spreading the virus.

Instead, the same route and stopover towns will be part of next year’s event.  

Riders who registered for RAGBRAI can request a refund, put it toward next year’s ride or donate the amount to the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

Former RAGBRAI staffers who planned a competing event called Iowa’s Ride say they will wait to announce their decision for this year.

Statement from Tyson Foods:

We have confirmed cases of team members at some of our U.S. locations. Since this is an ever-changing situation, we’re not sharing specific numbers. Below I have provided information on the measures we are taking to protect our team members. For more information, and for access to some visual assets you could use in your story, click on the links below which are a couple of blog posts on Tyson’s efforts:

We’re Providing Face Coverings to All Team Members [thefeed.blog]

Q&A: Why We’re Using Walk-Through Temperature Scanners [thefeed.blog]

We’re working hard to protect our team members during this ever-changing situation, while also ensuring we continue fulfilling our critical role of helping feed people across the country.

We’ve been checking worker temperatures as they arrive at the facility. We’re mandating and providing face coverings and have initiated additional cleaning. We’ve implemented social distancing measures, such as installing workstation dividers and providing more breakroom space. We relaxed our attendance policy in March to encourage workers to stay at home when they’re sick. We’ve also been educating team members on COVID-19, including the importance of following CDC guidelines away from work. 

When we learn an employee has experienced symptoms and tested positive, they remain on sick leave until they are released by health officials to return to work. We also affirmatively notify anyone who has been in close contact with the positive team member.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.