WATERLOO, IOWA – An immigrant from Congo who worked at the Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Waterloo has died of the coronavirus, the company confirmed Tuesday.
The Congolese community in Waterloo has been mourning the death of Axel Kabeya, which several members announced Sunday on social media.
A Congolese newspaper reported that Kabeya was one of the community’s best-known figures in Waterloo, where hundreds of refugees have settled in recent years. He’s survived by a wife and children. His age wasn’t immediately available.
Tyson Fresh Meats spokeswoman Liz Croston confirmed the death, saying the company was “deeply saddened by the loss of a team member at our Waterloo facility.”
The plant has had one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the nation, and more than 1,000 of its 2,800 workers have tested positive. After suspending production for two weeks, the plant reopened with new safety measures last week.
Croston said Tyson is confirming only three deaths of Waterloo workers from coronavirus. Local officials say they can’t release the number of workers who’ve died.
Advocates and family members have said that at least four workers have died at the plant, Tyson’s largest pork facility. After Kabeya, the others include a 65-year-old white man, a 60-year-old Latino man and a 58-year-old Bosnian woman.