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417 new cases in Buena Vista, but outbreak 'not confirmed'

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Buena Vista County had a one-day spike of 417 new confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday — which makes it the most-infected county per capita in Iowa — but state officials said they are unsure whether there is an outbreak at a meat-processing facility in Storm Lake, the county's seat.

"We have not confirmed that yet," Gov. Kim Reynolds said this morning during her daily press conference.

Tyson Foods recently conducted widespread testing of its Storm Lake facility employees and is waiting for "complete data" before releasing the results of those tests, Liz Croston, a Tyson spokeswoman, told the Times Herald.

"We will disclose verified test results, once complete data is available, with health and government officials, team members and other stakeholders," she said. "The health and safety of our team members, their families and communities is our top priority."

Reynolds didn't acknowledge the increase in new cases until a reporter asked about it today, and Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the state Department of Public Health, said the only outbreaks the state is proactively reporting on its coronavirus website are those at long-term care facilities for older Iowans.

"We've been announcing them at these press conferences as the questions have been asked," Reisetter said of outbreaks at other types of facilities.

The surge of Buena Vista cases accounted for the majority of new cases reported statewide Tuesday, which was 549 and was the highest single-day increase in nearly a month.

That followed a day of 162 new cases, which was the lowest increase in more than a month.

Buena Vista now has a total of 678 confirmed coronavirus cases.

In western Iowa — which Reynolds has acknowledged is where the state's virus activity is shifting — Buena Vista has the second-most cases to Woodbury, which has about 2,650. Crawford County is third with 488.

Reynolds has repeatedly touted the increased amount of testing the state is doing now, and despite surges in western Iowa she has continued to loosen restrictions on social gatherings, businesses and events.

She said health officials have been using the tests to identify infected people — whom they encourage to self-quarantine — and those who they might have also infected through close contact.

— This article was updated with information from Tyson Foods.

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