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Two big Indiana meat plants hit by COVID-19 are reopening

Limited operations only at Tyson/Indiana Packers
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Posted at 4:15 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 16:22:10-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Two big Indiana pork processing plants northwest of Indianapolis are reopening with limited production after being shut down over COVID-19 issues.

It's news that should help, at least in a small way, ease the country's meat shortage.

In Cass County, Tyson Foods, with 2,200 employees, resumed operations in Logansport Thursday, but on a limited scale.

Tyson was the scene of a major COVID-19 outbreak in recent weeks. Cass County currently lists 1,422 positive tests for the virus, with the vast majority of those among Tyson workers. Tyson is the county's largest employer.

Working with the Cass County Health Department, Tyson shut down the plant for a deep cleaning and to test all of its workers. The company is not saying how many of those employees have been able to return to their jobs.

In neighboring Carroll County, Indiana Packers, plans to resume limited operations Friday. The company says it tested its 2,267 employees for COVID-19 and just over 300 came back with positive tests.

According to a statement from Tyson, Carroll County’s top health official, Dr. Jordan Dutter, toured the IPC plant this Wednesday to review the initiatives undertaken to ensure the safety of IPC’s team members.

“I was very impressed with IPC’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus and the company’s dedication to best ensure the health and safety of its team members,” says Dr. Dutter. “Based upon my tour and review of IPC’s mitigation efforts, I believe the measures taken by IPC will allow those team members to work safely, as IPC continues to follow CDC guidelines and recommendations."

Indiana Packers is Carroll County's largest employer. The company says it has added more physical barriers and hand sanitizer dispensers at the plant. When production resumes, the company will begin a series of improvements for increased physical distancing that start in the parking lot and entrances.

This flow will continue with staggered start and break times. As team members enter the facility, they will be given fitted masks and there will be enhanced health screenings, including temperature checks, health questions and follow-up checks throughout the day.

“This pause in operations and the testing of our employees was absolutely a critical moment in our ongoing effort to create a safe work environment,” says IPC President and Chief Operating Officer Russ Yearwood. “The safety of our team members, contractors and the community are crucial. We suspected the testing process would generate an increase in positive cases unknown to us, but this was the point. This voluntary testing event identified those who are positive for the virus.”