(The Center Square) – Gov. Kim Reynolds saluted local employers for acting responsibly through the COVID-19 crisis and said the state is relying on those “partners” to protect food-plant employees and other essential workers.
“You know, I think employers are doing the right thing and they need to continue to do the right thing,” Reynolds told the Bellevue Herald-Leader. “We’re going to continue to work with them and be a partner. We want to make sure individuals take individual responsibility.”
Reynolds stressed that doesn’t mean the state doesn’t need to cover all the bases when it comes to instituting safety guidelines and fully educating the public about possible dangers.
Some workers at Tyson Fresh Meats in Black Hawk County have said the company was allowing people with respiratory symptoms to continue working and hide outbreaks of the virus at the worksite, according to media reports. The situation has become so volatile hundreds of workers are now refusing to report for their shifts out of fear for their own health.
In her discussions with representatives from some of the state’s largest employers, Reynolds said she got the sense that they have “a vested interest” in keeping their workforce healthy so their business can continue operating.
“We’re working with the businesses to make sure that they’re implementing safe and good practices and practicing as much social distancing as they can,” she said. “That’s not always something that they’re able to do.”
Some plants have since closed, including the Waterloo pork plant, CNN reported.
In her second year as governor, Reynolds highlighted that food plants and nursing homes are some the hardest-hit areas in the state when it comes to the virus.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iowa stood at 5,092, with 112 deaths, as of April 24.