To the editor:
Almost two weeks after COVID-19 testing took place at the Tyson plant in Perry, the Iowa governor’s office finally released the shocking numbers: 730 positive cases, 58% of the plant employees.
The combined egregious failures of the governor, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Dallas County Department of Public Health and Tyson Foods Inc. to release such test results promptly after obtaining them allowed this very contagious and dangerous virus to quietly spread and infect people in the Perry community and the surrounding counties of Polk, Greene and Guthrie, where many Tyson plant employees reside.
These combined failures to disclose such COVID-19 test results promptly have continued to endanger the public health and residents of the Perry community and surrounding counties.
Perry public officials, the local news media and local medical personnel made repeated requests to Tyson, the Dallas County Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the governor’s office for the prompt release of such Tyson plant test results so they could properly respond and protect the local public health and populace.
Our community cannot “blame” the Tyson employees who became infected with this virus. They were required by Tyson to work and were simply doing their jobs, providing for their families and supporting the local economy.
What is so ironic and sad is that this local health crisis could have been avoided if Tyson would have implemented the CDC national recommendations for keeping meatpacking plant workers safe earlier. Not only would the plant workers, their families and the Perry community have benefited, but Tyson would have benefited by having a healthy workforce that allowed the plant to remain open and producing meat for the American public.
Daniel J. Spellman