LOGANSPORT, Ind. (WISH) — The Cass County Health Department on Wednesday afternoon said it has seen just under 1,200 positive COVID-19 cases. Almost 900 employees at the Tyson Food plant in Cass County’s Logansport have tested positive.
The county had been working with Tyson on a plan to reopen the plant after the pork processing plant voluntarily closed for 14 days in an effort to contain an outbreak.
Cass County Commissioner Ryan Browning has been working with Tyson and the health department to develop a workable reopening plan that has been thrown into high gear by President Donald Trump’s executive order to reopen meat processing plants shuttered by the virus.
“So there is some worry there that might force them to flip a switch and go but we are continuing with our plan,” said Browning.
Pork processing is labor intensive and conducted in a close-quarter environment that doesn’t afford much personal space. The virus has infected 890 of the 2,200 people in the Logansport plant in less than a week.
Serenity Alter is the Cass County Health Department administrator and she is expecting the numbers of positive cases to continue to climb.
“We were in good shape for a couple weeks and then just within the couple weeks it kind of blew up,” said Alter.
Alter says she is fairly certain after tracing the contacts of positive tests, that the outbreak started with a Tyson employee. The Tyson plant is just one concern for Cass County; there are two other meat processing plants within a 30-minute drive of Logansport and there are several households that have people working in multiple plants.
“It is a lot ya know we are up there I don’t know what 2 or 3 in the state and that is not something we want to be known for, but it is where we are and it is something we are gonna have to work through,” said Browning.
Tyson sent the following statement to News 8 regarding the safety of employees:
“We’ve been screening worker temperatures, requiring protective face coverings and conducting additional cleaning and sanitizing. We’ve also implemented social distancing measures, such as workstation dividers and more breakroom space.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb this week is expected to make a step toward reopening the state. The process could be by region or on a county-by-county basis.
Alter says they are not ready for a reopening in Cass County.
“With our numbers increasing the way they are, hopefully we will not be one of those regions just quite yet,” she said.
The health department in Cass County is expecting their peak to come in the next two weeks.