CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus Live Updates: Tyson Plant Closes After Hundreds Of Workers Test Positive for COVID-19

Stay up to date as we cover the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effects across the world.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

More than 5.8 million cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, and more than 362,000 people have died from it, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shutter in hopes of slowing transmission.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Tyson Shuts Down Pork Processing Plant In Iowa After Hundreds Fall Ill — 5/29/20, 2:20 p.m. ET

A Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, is temporarily halting operations after 22% of the plant’s 2,500 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter told the Des Moines Register that 555 of the plant’s 2,517 employees tested positive, which the company blamed on “a delay in COVID-19 testing results and team member absences related to quarantine.“

Tyson said it plans to reopen next week after a “deep cleaning and sanitizing of the entire facility.”

Mayra Lopez, vice president of the Storm Lake League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, told the Register that Tyson could have done more to prevent the outbreak.

A meeting with Tyson earlier this month regarding the company’s efforts was “very short, very scripted, and very vague,” she said, though she agreed a lack of adequate testing was at least partly to blame.

“We finally, finally have the testing we’ve been waiting for,” she said. “I don’t think people are getting results quickly enough. I’ve heard Tyson employees waiting as long as a week to hear back if they have a confirmed case. By the time they get the results, it could be too late and they’ve passed it on to someone else.”

Meat processing plants have become COVID-19 hot spots in rural communities across the country. As of last week, an estimated 17,000 workers in processing plants across the United States have fallen ill and 66 have died.

— Ryan Grenoble

New York Sets Tentative June 8 Phased NYC Reopening Date — 5/29/20, 1:30 p.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday New York City is on track to begin a phased reopening on June 8, once hospital capacity and contract tracing are at sufficient levels to sustain the COVID-19 recovery.

The city has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Of the U.S.’s nearly 102,000 confirmed deaths, roughly a fifth — 21,415 — have been in the city alone, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.

Much of the rest of the state already began relaxing restrictions on May 15.

— Ryan Grenoble

Boston Marathon Canceled — 5/28/20, 2:51 p.m. ET

This year’s Boston Marathon, initially postponed from its traditional April date to September, will not be held in-person this year, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) announced Thursday. Walsh said organizers have deemed it “not feasible,” given the continued threat of COVID-19′s spread, especially through large events.

Any marathon runner who had entered will receive a full refund, and is invited to run a virtual marathon from Sept. 7-14. Organizers will also hold a series of virtual events that week in lieu of the in-person race, which is a major event for the city.

— Marina Fang

Unemployment Tops 40 Million Across U.S. — 5/28/20, 11:30 a.m. ET

Another 2.1 million people applied for unemployment benefits across the country last week, bringing the total number to around 41 million since the crisis dramatically worsened in March. 

Not all of that number are still jobless. Around 21 million are currently receiving unemployment aid, the Labor Department reported Thursday, providing a rough count of the unemployed.

 The increase in applications, however, suggests businesses are cutting staff even as all 50 states work to reopen at least some parts of their economies. 

In April, the national unemployment rate reached nearly 15%, which is the highest since the Great Depression. While businesses work on reopening with added restrictions to prevent spread of the coronavirus, the question remains of how quickly customers — some spooked by threat of the virus, others struggling economically — will come back. 

The economy is thought to be shrinking by 40% in the April-June quarter, according to the Associated Press.

— Sara Boboltz

Trump Acknowledges 100,000 Dead Americans A Day Late — 5/28/20, 10:30 a.m. ET

Trump tweeted a message of condolence Thursday, a day after the confirmed COVID-19 U.S. death toll surpassed 100,000.

“We have just reached a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000,” his account tweeted. “To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you!”

The delayed acknowledgement is in keeping with Trump’s messaging throughout the crisis. He spent months publicly downplaying the severity of the pandemic, even as deaths soared.

In April, Trump patted himself on the back and predicted the death toll would top out at around 60,000. “It looks like we’ll be at about a 60,000 mark, which is 40,000 less than the lowest number thought of,” he said at the April 19 briefing. The U.S. passed that threshold one week later.

Of the 13 hours Trump spent talking at the daily coronavirus briefings (which have since been canceled), he spent just 4.5 minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims, a Washington Post analysis found.

— Ryan Grenoble

Coronavirus Contact Tracing Program Launched In England — 5/28/20, 5:45 a.m. ET

People who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 will be told to self-isolate for two weeks as the British government launches its coronavirus tracing system in England.

Under the Test and Trace program, a team of 25,000 contact tracers will work out who those infected with coronavirus have been in contact with in a bid to control local flare-ups.

Everyone who tests positive for the virus will be asked to share details about who they have seen and where they have been with the tracers. This person’s close contacts will then receive an email or a text, telling them they must stay at home for 14 days – even if they don’t have any symptoms – to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus. Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should still self-isolate at home, along with their household, and get tested for COVID-19.

Britain, which has the second-highest death toll from the virus globally, abandoned a strategy of testing and tracing in March when the virus started spreading exponentially and there was insufficient capacity to test more than a fraction of those with symptoms.

The government says there is now enough capacity for all who need tests to get them. It is aiming to provide test results within 24 hours. Read more 

— Jasmin Gray

For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.


 
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