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All workers at Prestage slaughterhouse will be tested for Covid-19

EAGLE GROVE, IOWA – The Wright county emergency management agency announced that all workers at its slaughterhouse in outside Eagle Grove will be tested for Covid-19 after workers traveling to the plant from Black Hawk county brought the disease with them to the job.

According to Wright county emergency management:

Over the past several weeks the Wright County Board of Supervisors (BOS) and the Wright County Board of Health (BOH) has stayed in constant communication with Prestage Foods of Iowa (Prestage) we have worked together to provide the latest information and state guidelines to facilitate the implementation of the policies and procedures to help insure the safety of their employees and the citizens of Wright County. This is the timeline of some of the precautionary measures that Prestage has implemented.

Mitigation Steps taken by Prestage Foods:

1) Began Communicating Importance of Germ Control with Cafeteria table top leaflets. (March 12, 2020)
2) Added Personnel to continually wipe and sanitize common surfaces. (March 17, 2020)
3) Restricted Outside Visitors. (March 17, 2020)
4) Ceased Company Travel. (March 17, 2020)
5) Initiated Risk Assessment Questionnaire for all new employees and property visitors (ie Truck
Drivers, Service people)(March 16, 2020).
6) Suspended Company Attendance policy to address changing conditions with childcare and
illness.
7) Closed Buffet Service to Cafeteria and moved to prepared sack lunches to reduce queuing at
cafeteria. (March 19, 2020)
8) Tied back doors and rooms to minimize unneeded spreading of germs. (March 19, 2020)
9) Allowed to eat lunch in car to further promote social distancing. (March 19th, 2020)
10) Distributed Essential Personnel Travel documents to all employees (March 23, 2020).
11) Began providing lunches to outbound truck drivers due to food service limitations (March 23,
2020).
12) Began aggressive education on CDC Guidelines for Hand Washing and Social Distancing including
Employee Orientations, Electronic Bulletin Boards, and Cafeteria table communication. (March
24, 2020)
13) Began Self-Isolation for all employees who left Iowa prior to returning to work per the
Governor’s pending recommendation. (March 24, 2020)
14) Further enhanced Social Distancing by opening up additional office space for employees to
spread physical location in both Ames Office and Eagle Grove Office. Restricted travel between
offices. (March 24, 2020).
15) Opened up additional seating in alternate areas of the facility to promote social distancing at
breaks and cafeteria. (85 seats removed from 420 seats in cafeteria). Lengthened lunch from 35 minutes to 45 minutes to allow more time to social distance into new areas (March 26, 2020).
16) Coordinated additional safety measures for Midas bus routes from Fort Dodge including wearing masks, hand sanitizing, elimination of exchange of money, and social distancing from the bus driver (March 30, 2020).
17) Began weekly aerosol fogging of chlorine based sanitizer of common areas of plant in addition to production areas (April 5, 2020).
18) Implemented Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family Medical leave policy (April 6, 2020).
19) Began voluntary Mask Distribution (April 7, 2020).
20) Announced mandatory Wearing of Masks for Production areas (April 13, 2020).
21) Began taking temperatures of all employees, contractors, and visitors daily (April 16, 2020).

On Thursday, April 16th, Prestage contacted the BOS and BOH that they had 62 employees that commute from Black Hawk County to their facility in Wright County. Prestage, BOS and the BOH agreed that a proactive measure should be taken immediately due to the increased positives in the Black Hawk County region.

On Friday, April 17th, the BOS and BOH requested from Iowa Department of Public Health (Doctor Ann Garvey) to allow testing of all employees that commuted from that region. This request was granted and testing began late Friday, April 17th and Saturday, April 18th. On Saturday, April 18th and Sunday, April 19th the Wright County BOS and BOH received confirmation that 16 of the 62 employees tested positive for Covid-19. It should be noted that all 16 employees that came back positive were asymptomatic (none showed any signs or symptoms).

Due to the outcome of these tests and that all positives were asymptomatic the Wright County BOH, BOS and Prestage felt it is necessary to test all employees at the facility as soon as possible. On the evening of Sunday, April 19th the Wright County BOS, BOH and Prestage requested assistance from the State Emergency Operations’ Center and the Governor to gain access to 950 tests.

This request was granted immediately. Testing of all Prestage employees will begin the morning of Monday, April 20th.

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