Tyson had put some precautions in place. In March, it began checking workers for fevers as they entered the plant and relaxed its policies so workers who tested positive or were feeling unwell would be paid a portion of their salary even if they stayed home.

But workers were still crowded together on the factory floor, in the cafeteria and in the locker room, and most did not wear masks. Tyson said it offered cloth bandannas to workers who asked, but by the time it tried to buy protective gear, supplies were scarce.

At least one employee vomited while working on the production line, and several left the facility with soaring temperatures, according to a worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job and local advocates who have spoken with workers at the plant…

“It was really a time of fear and panic,” said State Representative Timi Brown-Powers, who works at a coronavirus clinic in Waterloo. “They had not slowed the line down. They were not practicing any sort of social distancing.”