Testing for COVID-19 began about 9 a.m. Saturday for workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Perry.
Employees formed one long line that stretched from the plant gates southward across the parking lot and then eastward. Some workers were seen wearing face masks and preserving a six-foot social distance, and some were seen without face masks and standing more closely than six feet.
Several hundred kill-floor workers were in line at 9 a.m. for testing scheduled until noon. Cut-floor workers will be tested from noon to 3 p.m.
The workforce-wide surveillance tests were presumably being administered under the auspices of the Iowa Department of Public Health, but neither the company nor the Dallas County Public Health Department confirmed who was testing the workers.
“That’s between them and whoever they have arranged to do the actual testing,” said Ann Cochran, health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.
She said Dallas County Public Health is not itself doing any testing but is conducting the contract tracing that follows the identification of a positive case and identifies people whom the infectious person possibly exposed.
Cochran said Friday’s increase in positive cases in Dallas County from 67 to 99 resulted from increased testing. The overall infection rate in the county or state is unknown, she said.
“I don’t think there is anybody who could definitively say the rate of COVID infections among Iowans is this exact percent.,” Cochran said “I don’t think anybody knows that.”