DAKOTA CITY, Neb. — Tyson Foods planned to reopen its Dakota City, Nebraska, beef plant Thursday, nearly a week after closing the facility following a surge of coronavirus cases among workers.
Tyson closed the plant last Friday and initially planned to reopen in four days but pushed that back to await coronavirus test results, officials said. The plant employs 4,300 people and is among the largest employers for neighboring Sioux City, Iowa.
While the plant was closed, workers completed a deep cleaning, Tyson spokeswoman Liz Croston said in a statement. The company also has adopted new measures for workers, including installing more than 150 infrared walk-through temperature scanners, mandatory face coverings, workstation dividers and more space in breakrooms.
The Dakota City plant is one of numerous meat-processing facilities that have closed due to coronavirus outbreaks. A Tyson pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, and a Smithfield pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, were both scheduled to reopen Thursday.
A day earlier, President Donald Trump said he has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations of potential market manipulation and possible price fixing by meatpackers during the pandemic. Attorneys general for 11 Midwestern states — including Nebraska and Iowa — this week asked for a federal investigation, and some members of Congress had also asked about the issue.
Separately, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday that more than 300 federal meatpacking inspectors are either sick from the coronavirus or in self-quarantine after exposure. Citing a USDA spokesman, the newspaper said that through Tuesday, 197 inspectors had tested positive; the Food Safety and Inspection Service has about 8,000 employees. The agency said it continues to meet its responsibilities.