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NEWS 8.3.21: Tyson Vaccine Mandate, IA Gov. Visit, Free School Lunches, USD Athlete Wins Silver

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Tyson Foods is requiring all employees in the United States to e vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to a news release, all employees who work in an office setting must be fully vaccinated by October 1 and the rest of the workforce by November 1.

Tyson says the move is to help keep infection rates low. They say about half of their employees have already received their shots. Exceptions to the vaccination mandate will be made for people who need special medical or religious accommodations.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was scheduled to be in Sioux City this noon hour. She is in town for the grand opening of a new housing complex in Sunnybrook Plaza. The Sioux City Journal reports, District 42 features 215 townhomes and apartments built in two phases. The first phase, which includes half of the units, opened in June. All of the units have been leased, according to the property manager.

The state of Iowa received almost 200 applications for broadband grants. The Iowa Legislature set aside $100 million toward the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program. Governor Reynolds says, “the effort will open new doors for Iowa communities large and small, resulting in the most significant broadband build-outs in the entire community.” The organization BroadbandNow ranks Iowa 45th in the nation for broadband coverage.

All students in the Sioux City Community School District will receive free and reduced meals for the next school year. The move is part of the USDA’s extension of the free breakfast and lunch program. Students in all Sioux City Community School District schools, including the VIBE Academy, the district’s new virtual school, will receive free breakfast and lunch. School officials say this is a huge benefit for the school district since more than 70 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches every year. It is also available to other districts across the country.

Former USD pole vaulter Chris Nilsen won the silver medal today at the Tokyo Olympics. He cleared a personal best of 19.58 feet. Nilsen is a three-time NCAA Champion and this year’s United States champion. He is the second Coyote to medal in the Olympics. His coach Derek Miles won bronze in 2008.

News release from Tyson Foods:

Company also providing $200 to fully vaccinated frontline team members

Springdale, Ark. – August 3, 2021 – To protect team members, their families and their communities, Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN), is requiring its team members at U.S. office locations to be fully vaccinated by October 1, 2021. All other team members are required to be fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021, subject to ongoing discussions with locations represented by unions. 

This action makes Tyson Foods the largest U.S. food company to require COVID-19 vaccinations for its entire workforce. Almost half of Tyson Foods’ U.S. workforce has been vaccinated and coronavirus infection rates among team members remain low.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities,” said Dr. Claudia Coplein, Chief Medical Officer, Tyson Foods. “With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts of contagious, dangerous variants leading to increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization among the U.S. unvaccinated population, this is the right time to take the next step to ensure a fully vaccinated workforce.”

A memo to Tyson Foods team members from President & CEO Donnie King can be found here.

Since February, Tyson Foods has hosted more than 100 vaccination events for team members across the country and more than 56,000 U.S. team members have been vaccinated so far. Additional onsite vaccination events will be scheduled, and the company will continue to collaborate with local health departments and healthcare providers to make the vaccine more accessible.  

To support efforts to fully vaccinate all team members, the company will also provide $200 to its frontline team members, subject to ongoing discussions with locations represented by unions.  This is an expansion of the company’s existing policy of compensating workers for up to four hours of regular pay if they are vaccinated outside of their normal shift or through an external source.  

Exceptions to the vaccination mandate will involve workers who seek medical or religious accommodation. 

“Tyson Foods and Matrix Medical have worked together since the beginning of this pandemic to develop and implement strategies to mitigate the risk of the virus to Tyson employees and their families, as well as the communities where they live and work,” said Matrix Chief Medical Officer and Group President, Daniel Castillo, M.D., M.B.A. “Matrix clinicians and Tyson team members have worked hand-in-hand to implement a broad array of workplace safety measures at Tyson, and we now feel the rising number of new cases across the U.S. warrants advanced clinical strategies – including requiring vaccinations.”

To date, Tyson Foods has spent more than $700 million related to COVID-19, including on efforts to combat its spread, such as buying masks, face shields and temperature scanners, installing protective barriers and providing on-site testing and vaccinations. It also partnered with an independent medical provider to bring medical services on site, hired an additional 200 nurses and its first Chief Medical Officer. In addition, Tyson Foods has invested countless hours educating our team members, in dozens of languages, about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination.

News release from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:

Today the state of Iowa is pleased to announce that the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) received 178 applications from broadband providers for the latest Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program. The request stems from the $100 million broadband investment that was secured this past legislative session.  

“Build it and they will come. The nearly 200 applications as well as the size and scope of these projects reflect the demand and need for quality accessible broadband throughout Iowa,” said Gov. Reynolds. “This effort will open new doors for Iowa communities large and small, resulting in one of the most significant broadband build-outs in the entire country.”

Universal broadband access for Iowa was a goal put forth by Governor Reynolds in her 2021 Condition of the State address. In 2021 the Iowa State Legislature saw fit to fund the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program with $100 million dollars towards achieving that goal. The grant is administered by the OCIO. Applications were accepted from July 1st to July 28th 2021.

In total, the 178 applications requested over $292 million in grant funding. This equates to nearly a 3-1 ratio of funds requested to funds available, which is why the state of Iowa will also look to leverage federal funds. 

The Notice of Intent to Award for the grant funds will be announced in September.

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