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Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Hundreds of meat plant workers across the country have fallen ill with the coronavirus, leading to a slowdown in output and surge in prices.

By the numbers, per Bloomberg: The price of wholesale pork rose by 7.2% to 55.86 cents a pound Thursday — the largest increase in more than two years. Choice-grade beef prices rose to a one-month high of $2.36 a pound, climbing for six straight days through Thursday.

The increase in prices comes as Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, announced three plant closures in recent days. Among those are a pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., At least 644 cases of the virus have been traced back to the plant.

Go deeper: Stores struggle to fill meat demand as coronavirus hits processing plants

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.