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Cass County accounts for nearly half of new coronavirus cases in Indiana Monday

Indianapolis Star logo Indianapolis Star 4/27/2020 Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star
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Cass County – home of Tyson Food's Logansport pork processing plant – saw 439 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Monday's count, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That is nearly half of the 963 new cases reported across the state Monday. 

The county now has 1,025 confirmed cases, the third highest in the state after Marion County and Lake County. That number has more than tripled since Friday, when there were only 313 positive cases. 

Seventy percent of the tests are returning positive, with a total of 1,462 total tests administered in Cass County, according to state data. There has been one death.

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The county has just under 38,000 residents, according to census data. 

Cass County commissioners have declared a public health emergency.

It is unclear at this time how many of the confirmed cases are individuals who worked at Tyson's Logansport plant or have had contact with those who have. Cass County Health Department officials said they hope to have a better handle on those numbers later Monday afternoon. 

County health officials have been working with the state in recent days to test all of the employees of the Tyson plant. It announced on Wednesday that it was closing indefinitely after more than 146 workers had tested positive for coronavirus at that time. 

The county on its website says: "We have entered a time where we do not have history to go on to make decisions. This is a time where tough decisions have to be made. With that being said the Cass County Commissioners are passing a resolution of emergency for the county."

That resolution will be reviewed every seven days until it is lifted, according to the statement on the website. 

The commissioners have also moved the county to an orange warning level, meaning that travel should be only for work, humanitarian needs such as food, and emergencies .

Tyson's Logansport plant is not the only such facility across the country to close under these circumstances. 

a group of people standing in front of a store: Tyson Foods installed plastic barriers between worker stations at its meat and poultry plants to protect against transmission of the coronavirus. © Tyson Foods Tyson Foods installed plastic barriers between worker stations at its meat and poultry plants to protect against transmission of the coronavirus.

Processing plants across the country have been taking steps to try to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus: putting in place plastic partitions, checking temperatures and spacing out employees. Still, with the nature of the disease, those efforts have not been able to stave off what some call the “inevitable” – many of these plants have been the source of the latest outbreaks.

a sign in front of a house: A car passes in front of a Tyson Foods Inc., sign at Tyson headquarters in Springdale, Ark. © April L. Brown, AP A car passes in front of a Tyson Foods Inc., sign at Tyson headquarters in Springdale, Ark.

Some plants have dozens, if not hundreds, of confirmed cases.

Also last week, Tyson Foods suspended operations at one of its sites in Iowa amid the outbreak. The Waterloo plant – which had more than 200 cases – is Tyson’s largest pork plant and accounts for approximately 4% of the U.S. processing capacity.

A Smithfield Foods facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has become the nation’s largest coronavirus hotspot after reporting more than 640 confirmed cases among those who either worked at the plant or had ties to those who did.

Smithfield has closed that plant along with others in Wisconsin and Missouri, according to the Associated Press. Similar scenes have played out in the last week in meat-packing plants in Colorado and other states.

Call IndyStar reporter Sarah Bowman at 317-444-6129 or email at sarah.bowman@indystar.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @IndyStarSarah. Connect with IndyStar’s environmental reporters: Join The Scrub on Facebook.

IndyStar's environmental reporting project is made possible through the generous support of the nonprofit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Cass County accounts for nearly half of new coronavirus cases in Indiana Monday

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