The 56 new positive cases include four workers from Walla Walla County, 31 in Benton and Franklin counties, one in Umatilla County, Oregon, and 20 from as yet unknown locations, according to updated numbers released by the Walla Walla Department of Community Health Thursday evening.
In all, there are 1,400 workers at the plant. Only 1,100 have been tested so far, and test results have been slow to come. Health officials say they expect more results back soon.
Before the mass testing began last week, there were already more than 100 known cases of coronavirus among workers at the plant. Tyson has kept the plant shuttered since April 24, telling workers to quarantine until their results are back.
County health officials say Tyson will decide on any reopening of the plant, where workers speak about a dozen languages.
Across the country, meat-processing plants have seen closures and work disruptions due to coronavirus spread among workers. Tyson Foods chairman John Tyson recently wrote in a company blog post and in several national media outlets that the country’s meat supply is “vulnerable,” with the possibility that “millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain” as plants are forced to close or work slows.
The CEO of Smithfield Food recently warned the nation’s meat supply was “perilously close” to disruptions, NPR reported.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act aimed at keeping plants open and the nation’s meat supply stocked. As NPR reported at the time: “Trump told reporters at the White House that he is working on a plan ‘to solve any liability problems’ for meat processors.”