Iowa OSHA visits two more meatpackers; other plants cleared with no inspection

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff conducted on-site inspections of two more Iowa meatpacking plants this week, the Iowa Division of Labor confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on June 2.

Documents provided the following day show regulators closed at least four coronavirus-related complaints against Iowa pork processors with no inspection.

Inspectors toured the Tyson Foods turkey plant in Storm Lake and the Perdue Premium pork facility in Sioux Center on June 1. Both site visits stemmed from “media referrals” rather than complaints, meaning officials acted on unspecified news reports or information relayed to OSHA by a journalistic source.

Continue Reading...

More people of color running for Iowa legislature in 2020

After a decade of little change in the racial breakdown of the Iowa House and Senate, more people of color are running for the state legislature this year.

Candidates appearing on today’s primary ballot include eight Democrats and six seven Republicans, which to my knowledge is a record for the Iowa GOP.

In addition, three people of color representing minor parties have filed as general election candidates in state legislative districts.

Continue Reading...

OSHA inspected five Iowa meatpacking plants on site

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff have conducted five on-site inspections of Iowa meatpacking plans during the past six weeks, the Iowa Division of Labor confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on May 28.

According to Mary Montgomery, who works in the office of Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts, OSHA inspectors examined COVID-19 mitigation measures at the Tyson Fresh Meats pork processing plant in Waterloo on April 20, the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction on April 30, Iowa Premium Beef in Tama on May 21, the JBS pork plant in Marshalltown, also on May 21, and the Tyson plant in Perry on May 26.

Montgomery indicated that a complaint prompted the Waterloo inspection, while “media referrals” led to the others. Asked to define that term, Montgomery said either “news items reported in the media” or information relayed “directly to OSHA by a media source” had prompted the site visits. She did not specify which news reports or journalistic sources influenced OSHA staff.

Continue Reading...

Latinos now 1 in 4 of Iowa's COVID-19 cases

Racial disparities continue to widen as the number of novel coronavirus cases grows in Iowa.

Data published on the state’s COVID-19 website on May 17 indicate that Latinos make up 25.1 percent of Iowa’s 14,651 confirmed COVID-19 cases. That’s more than four times the share of Latinos in the state population (6.2 percent according to the latest Census Bureau estimate).

Another 57.1 of Iowans who have tested positive are not Hispanic or Latino, while the remaining 17.8 percent of cases are pending further investigation of the person’s ethnicity.

Continue Reading...

New COVID-19 testing program may miss Iowans in high-risk groups

“I do want to encourage every Iowan to go to TestIowa.com and take the assessment,” Governor Kim Reynolds said as she rolled out a program to increase the state’s coronavirus testing capacity during an April 21 news conference. The governor announced the following day that more than 80,000 Iowans had completed an initial assessment during the first 24 hours the website was online.

However, the online survey at the new site is not accessible to all Iowans in high-risk groups for COVID-19 infections and complications. Representatives of the governor’s office and Iowa Department of Public Health did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s repeated questions about barriers to taking the survey.

Continue Reading...
View More...