Governor Kim Reynolds is asking federal officials to send more testing supplies to Iowa for use at the 18 meat packing and food processing facilities here.
Reynolds told reporters this morning she’s talking later today with U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue about the situation. “We’ve got a call into CDC to see if they can provide even some assistance at our packing plants as well,” Reynolds said. “So we’re doing all of the above to make sure that we can continue to protect our employees, but also to make sure that we really protect this critical, essential infrastructure as well.”
A COVID-19 outbreak has been identified in Louisa County, at the Tyson pork processing plant in Columbus Junction. That facility is shut down, as is the beef processing plant in Tama where workers also have tested positive.
“We’re going to continue to reach out and provide the testing that they need to make sure that we can protect their employees, first and foremost,” Reynolds said during her daily news conference, “so that we can have healthy employees that can keep the plant up and running and continue to make sure that food supply is working its way to grocery stores and Americans and people all around the world.”
The State of Iowa is sending 900 test kits to Louisa County for testing related to the outbreak at the pork plant in Columbus Junction.
Iowa Department of Public Health deputy director Sarah Reisetter said it’s not just testing supplies that are needed in places like Louisa and Tama Counties where the two plants are located.
“Our local public health partners are fantastic,” Reisetter said, “but in a lot of cases they have limited resources and limited staffing.”
Reisetter indicated state officials are starting to assemble teams that would be dispatched to help county public health departments do what’s called “contact tracing” — tracking down people who’ve been around Iowans who have tested positive for COVID-19 and hopefully getting those contacts tested, too.