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Iowa beef plant suspends operations after workers get virus

TAMA (AP) — A beef processing plant in one of Iowa’s coronavirus hot spots has suspended production after several workers have become infected.

National Beef announced that its Iowa Premium plant in Tama will be idled until April 20.

The company said numerous employees had contracted COVID-19 and others were exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

It’s the second meat processing plant in Iowa to suspend operations after workers have become infected. Tyson Foods last week idled its Columbus Junction pork plant.

National Beef, based in Kansas City, purchased the Tama plant last year. At the time, it had about 850 employees. The plant processes corn-fed beef raised on farms in Iowa and neighboring states, boxing products for domestic and international markets.

The company said that it was taking steps to stop the spread of the virus and keep employees safe at its plants. Those include daily sanitizing and disinfection, temperature screenings, increased social distancing in common areas, and voluntary use of disposable face masks.

Tama County has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic in Iowa, with its cases jumping Monday by 15 to 101. It is also the site of one of the state’s three confirmed nursing home outbreaks, at Premier Estates of Toledo. Two county residents have died.