News 5.28.20: Storm Lake Tyson Outbreak, Test Iowa Concerns and Bars Reopen

May 28, 2020

Credit Chris Hall/Facebook

Health officials are confirming another coronavirus outbreak in an Iowa meatpacking plant on the same day that the number of residents who have died from the virus topped 500.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says of the more than 2,500 employees tested at the Tyson pork processing plant in Storm Lake, 555 have tested positive.

Meanwhile, the State Secretary of Agriculture announced a plan to provide assistance for pork producers when it comes to euthanizing their livestock.  Information from Iowa State University shows an excess of 600,000 hogs on Iowa farms.

Woodbury and Dakota Counties reported no new deaths on Thursday.  There were 23 new positive cases in Woodbury County for a total of almost 2,700 cases.  Dakota County has two new cases for a total of more than 1,600.  There are 88 positive cases in Union County.

Floyd Valley Community Health recorded the first death in Plymouth County on Wednesday; a man over the age of 80.

Two Democratic lawmakers, including Chris Hall of Sioux City, are calling on the Iowa House of Representatives to investigate the Test Iowa program. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds in April unveiled the no-bid contract with Utah-based tech companies to boost the state’s coronavirus testing capacity. 

On Facebook Hall says families across Iowa have more questions than answers.  They are on the hook for $26 million and deserve to know whether their money is being spent wisely.

Test Iowa has been increasing its capacity but hasn’t reached the goal of 3,000 tests per day. Some have reported issues with inconclusive and delayed results, and with accessing the drive-thru sites.

Today, bars across the state, including Woodbury County can open at 50% capacity.  The Sioux City Police Department says they do not have any officers dedicated to enforcing social distancing guidelines.  However, any bars violating capacity guidelines could have their licenses impacted.

A spokesperson tells Siouxland Public Media, it’s o.k. to have a good time, but be safe.

Iowa Workforce Development reports almost 14,600 workers filed new unemployment claims with the state last week. That’s an increase over the week before.  Manufacturing was once again the industry with the largest number of claims followed by self-employed and health care workers.  The number of Iowans continuing to receive unemployment benefits declined again last week to about 180,000.

Nearly 5,900 Nebraska residents applied for unemployment last week.  That’s similar to last week. This brings the number of claims in the state of Nebraska to 129,000 since the middle of March.