- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2020

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) - Health officials confirmed another coronavirus outbreak in an Iowa meatpacking plant Thursday, as the number of people in the state who have died from the virus topped 500.

Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said 555 employees at the Tyson pork processing plant in Storm Lake have tested positive out of more than 2,517 tested.

Businesses in Iowa are not required to report outbreaks to the health department, and Iowa law only requires disclosure of a business name when it’s necessary to protect the public, Reisetter said. The agency’s policy is not to release a company’s name unless at least 10% of workers test positive and then the release may not be made publicly unless reporters inquire.

Reisetter said the policy is designed to balance individual privacy with the broader public interest.

Tyson, which also operates a turkey processing operation in Storm Lake, plans to release results from its plants once the testing of its roughly 3,100 employees in the area is completed next week.

Buena Vista County, where Storm Lake is located, had 701 positive cases as of Thursday, or 3,527 cases per 100,000 people. That is the largest concentration of cases in Iowa.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a citizen activist group, said the new cases show Reynolds should extend limits on public interaction.

“The outbreak at the Tyson meatpacking plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, is proof that President Trump, Governor Reynolds, and Tyson’s strategy to re-open the economy before it is safe has failed,” said the group’s board president, Tom Mohan of Sioux City.

Public health data shows 504 people had died of the coronavirus in Iowa as of Thursday, up 19 from Wednesday. There more than 317 new positive cases reported for a total of 18,573 as of Thursday afternoon.

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