Kansas sees coronavirus cases at meat-packing plants: report

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Outbreaks of the novel coronavirus continue to affect meat-packing plants in Kansas, according to a local report.

As of Sunday, the state has reported more than 5,000 cases of the novel virus, but numbers are expected to rise as testing becomes more widely available. As of the same day, two counties in particular — Wyandotte County and Ford County — had the most cases, with 826 and 815 cases, respectively.

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In Ford County, Kansas health officials have said the outbreak is largely tied to a “high concentration of cases” at meat-packing plants there, local news station KMBC reported.

Stay-at-home orders in Kansas ended on Sunday, according to KMBC.

The news comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance for meatpacking plants and their workers, recommending proactive, precautionary measures to reduce the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 and staffing shortages have forced some of the nation’s largest meat processing plants, including those owned by JBS, Smithfield Foods, and Tyson Foods, to temporarily pause operations at select facilities in recent weeks.

With potentially serious repercussions at stake for the nation’s food supply and livestock value chain, the CDC is now emphasizing the importance of social distancing for workers and employers involved in the processing of beef, pork, and poultry in the fight against the viral disease.

“Workers involved in meat and poultry processing are not exposed to SARS-CoV-2 through the meat products they handle,” the CDC explained. “However, their work environments — processing lines and other areas in busy plants where they have close contact with coworkers and supervisors — may contribute substantially to their potential exposures.”

You can read more about the guidelines here.

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Additionally, in a recent statement, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW,) America’s largest meatpacking and food processing union, said that 10 meatpacking workers and three food processing workers have died of the COVID-19.

According to their estimates, the union further claims that 5,000 meatpacking workers and 1,500 food processing workers have also been “directly impacted” by the virus. This number includes those who have tested positive, been hospitalized, missed work while self-quarantining, appear symptomatic, or are awaiting test results.

Fox News’s Janine Puhak contributed to this report.