Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds discusses food supply concerns as some meat plants remain closed due to coronavirus.
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Appearing on “Cavuto LIVE,” Reynolds said she appreciates President Trump’s order to keep meat processing plants open and has been in constant communication with over 40 state manufacturers and plants to make sure they have the tests and safety equipment they need.
“Iowa produces 10 percent of the food supply, and we’re a fourth of the processing,” the Republican governor said. “And so this is a critical and essential workforce, and a critical and essential work production capability. We’re working in tandem to make sure that we can keep the food supply chain moving and keep America fed.”
The pork processing plant closed for 14 days in an effort to contain the outbreak, and all workers were tested for the virus. The decision to reopen followed a tour with local health and government officials, and a union representative, according to a news release.
A Tyson Fresh Meats plant is seen Monday, April 27, 2020, in Emporia, Kan. President Donald Trump plans to order meat processing plants to stay open amid concerns over growing coronavirus cases and the impact on the nation’s food supply. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
The company said it has taken additional measures to ensure a safe work environment, including adding more work station barriers, hand sanitizer dispensers and monitors to help enforce social distancing.
Reynolds said regular testing of employees at the plants is “critical.”
She told host Neil Cavuto that there have been over 7,500 diagnostic coronavirus tests and 5,000 serology tests conducted to date in Iowa, and 24,000 tests combined are scheduled in the next 10 days.
“This really gives the employees the confidence that they need to feel safe in returning back to work…,” Reynolds said.
As of Friday, most of Iowa’s counties have begun to reopen. Restaurants, retail businesses, shopping malls, fitness centers and race tracks will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. Events can be held with up to 10 people, and worship services can resume with social distancing.
“We’ve eased restrictions in 77 of our counties and we’re seeing about 88 to 90 percent of our [positive] cases in the 22 counties that will remain under the higher level of restrictions,” Reynolds said.
Despite still recording hundreds of new coronavirus cases, Iowa never imposed a statewide stay-at-home order.
“Iowans are responsible. They’re practicing personal responsibility,as well as our businesses, and so we’re going to continue to look at the data [and] monitor the virus activity,” she said. “We’re able to do that from a statewide perspective to a county perspective right down to a community and a zip code. So we can be targeted in our approach as we begin to reopen Iowa and bring our economy back online.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.