“Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, Covid-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production,” Tyson Fresh Meats group president Steve Stouffer said in a statement on the Waterloo facility.
“The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company,” he said.
The Logansport plant alone produces 3 million pounds of pork per day, and works with 250 independent farmers, the company said Wednesday.
Hart, the mayor, voiced his approval of the move during a Wednesday morning interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, arguing the closure was necessary to potentially save lives.
“This is the action we have been waiting for,” Hart said in a statement emailed to CNN Business. “Tyson’s closing their plant will prove to be a positive step forward in preparing our community for the flattening the curve.”
The mayor added that the plant’s closure may have come too late to prevent the disease from spreading throughout his city, which he said went from 21 cases of Covid-19 on April 9 to about 380 cases on Tuesday.
Hart also noted that many of the plant’s workers as well as essential workers across America are people of color who don’t have the option to work from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It hurts when it feels like your pleas to people falls on deaf ears,” Hart said. “This isn’t a political issue. … It’s a humanitarian issue.”
The more than 2,200 workers from Tyson’s Logansport facility will receive coronavirus testing, which the company said could begin as soon as Thursday. The plant had closed for the day on Monday for deep cleaning, and has since been running at limited capacity.
“We’re aware that while employees are practicing protective measures at work, they may not be practicing it at home which is critical to help stop overall community spread,” said Dori Ditty, the health officer for the Cass County Health Department, which is working with Tyson to test the Logansport plant workers.
On April 12, Smithfield CEO Kenneth Sullivan said the Sioux Falls plant’s closure puts the country’s meat supply at risk.
“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” he said. “These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain.”
–CNN’s Clare Duffy contributed to this report.