GARDEN CITY — Local officials on Wednesday confirmed multiple cases of COVID-19 at a meatpacking plant in Finney County.
The Finney County Health Department confirmed multiple cases of the coronavirus among Tyson employees at the company’s plant in Holcomb. But those officials did not say how many cases have been tied to the meatpacking plant, which employs 3,800 people.
In a news release, the health department also said, “there is evidence of community spread of the disease," meaning the health department has found five or more cases that cannot be traced to a single source.
The number of cases in Finney County rose by 15 cases on Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to 56.
Earlier in the day, Tyson Foods closed a pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, that was blamed for fueling a coronavirus outbreak in the community.
More than 180 infections have been linked to the plant and officials expect that number to dramatically rise. Testing of its 2,800 workers is expected to begin Friday.
Employers have struggled to contain the virus in meatpacking plants, where workers toil side by side on production lines and often share crowded locker rooms, cafeterias and rides to work. While plants have added safety measures, public health experts say social distancing is virtually impossible.
Tyson said workers would be compensated during the shutdown and that the timing of reopening would depend on several factors, including testing.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
Corinne Boyer covers western Kansas for High Plains Public Radio and the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @Corinne_Boyer.
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