Tyson Foods announced yesterday that it has suspended without pay Waterloo plant manager Tom Hart and upper level manager John Casey. A lawsuit filed against the company by the family of a worker who died of coronavirus claims Hart set up a betting pool among managers based on guessing how many workers would get sick. Casey is accused of downplaying the severity of the virus to encourage employees to work. First-shift workers went home early yesterday after being briefed about the lawsuit by the Tyson CEO and president. Some workers apparently thought the all-worker meeting was to announce the plant was being shut down, but that is not the case and second-shift workers began their workday as scheduled. Tyson Foods President and CEO Dean Banks said yesterday he was “extremely upset” about the allegations against managers at its plant in Waterloo, saying they do not represent the company’s values. He says the Arkansas-based company has retained the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP to conduct an investigation, which will be led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. He says if the claims are confirmed, “we’ll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company.”
More than half of the bankers surveyed in rural parts of Iowa and nine other Plains and Western states are projecting a drop in holiday retail sales this year from last, as the coronavirus pandemic worsens across the country. The Rural Mainstreet Survey’s overall index fell to 46.8 in November from October’s 53.2. It’s the first time since April that the index has fallen, but it remains well ahead of the 35.5 reading in March, when the index bottomed out as the outbreak began. Dr. Ernie Goss of Creighton University conducts the survey. Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy.
More schedule changes for the Waterloo Black Hawks hockey team…and the annual Thanksgiving game at Young Arena is one of the coronavirus casualties. The United States Hockey League announced several games were postponed involving virtually every team. Tonight’s game against the Lincoln Stars, tomorrow’s game against the Des Moines Buccaneers, Wednesday’s game against Lincoln, the Thanksgiving game against Dubuque and a game the following Saturday against Green Bay have all been declared “no contests”. The league is working to reschedule the games. The Black Hawks hope to open the home season on Friday, December 4th against the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Bipartisanship is hard to find in the U.S. Senate these days…but one example of it was on Wednesday, shortly after U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa—the most senior member of the Republican caucus—announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky praised Grassley’s decision to self-quarantine as soon as he learned he had been exposed, rather than waiting for a test result. And even Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, took to the Senate floor to offer well wishes. Grassley is the latest GOP senator to test positive for coronavirus; Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Rand Paul of Kentucky each tested positive earlier this year.
And another reminder from the City of Waterloo as you make your plans for the next week…if Thursday is your normal garbage day, it will be Tuesday instead next week…and if Friday is your normal garbage day, it will be Wednesday instead next week. Garbage will be picked up two days earlier than normal, if your regular pick up day is on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
Gov. Kim Reynolds says she will provide $14 million in federal funds to Iowa’s long-term care centers to help them manage new outbreaks of the coronavirus at the facilities. The federal virus relief money announced yesterday will pay for additional testing and staffing at the long-term care centers. It comes at a time when Reynolds says another 20 facilities are dealing with outbreaks. That means about a quarter of the state’s long-term care homes now have outbreaks. Reynolds also announced that statewide television, radio and print advertisements are launching that are aimed at encouraging people to take steps to slow the spread of the virus, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands.
Iowa’s Board of Regents announced Wednesday tuition costs will not increase for the rest of the academic year—but scheduled increases will resume next fall. The board’s decision leaves the 2020-21 academic year baseline tuition rate for resident undergraduates at $8,073 at the University of Iowa, $8,042 at Iowa State University, and $7,665 at the University of Northern Iowa.