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Minnesota pork plant resumes operations

Associated Press

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FILE - In this photo taken Friday, July 21, 2017 young hogs gather around the water source at Everette Murphrey Farm in Farmville, N.C.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

WORTHINGTON, Minn. (AP) — JBS USA is resuming operations at its Worthington pork plant after being shut down for two weeks due to a coronavirus outbreak among workers.

JBS USA said it resumed hog slaughtering at the southwestern Minnesota plant with reduced staff on Wednesday. The company plans to resume processing on Thursday and expect operations to normalize over time as absenteeism rates decline.

The Worthington plant is a key buyer of Minnesota hogs and usually slaughters about 21,000 hogs daily, according to the Star Tribune.

JBS USA announced April 20 it was suspending operations at the large pork processing plant because of the COVID-19 outbreak. During the shutdown, the plant euthanized hogs for producers faced with too many animals, but now will return to processing rather than euthanizing hogs.

The company has implemented enhanced safety measures and says it coordinated its reopening strategy with union representatives and local, state and federal officials.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring meatpacking plants to remain open during the pandemic.

Over the past two weeks, extensive testing of plant workers has taken place. As of Monday, 490 workers at the Worthington plant had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The plant employs more than 1,800 union workers.

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