POSTVILLE, Iowa — It wasn’t until their colleagues began to disappear that workers at Agri Star Meat and Poultry realized there was a killer in their midst.
First came the rumors that rabbis at the kosher plant had been quarantined. Then a man who worked in the poultry department fell ill. They heard whispers about friends of friends who had been stricken with scorching fevers and unbearable chills — characteristic symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
Where was the contagion coming from?
No one would say. Not Agri Star’s wealthy owner, who didn’t shut down production lines after cases were confirmed among workers. Not the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which closed a complaint containing multiple allegations against the plant without an inspection. Not Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, whose administration threatened to prosecute officials who released covid data and did not conduct testing at the plant until seven weeks