Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Getty Images

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday requiring meat processing plants to stay open under the Defense Production Act during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: America's food supply chain is at risk due to coronavirus outbreaks in rural meatpacking plant communities.

  • Food processing plants in more than a dozen states have closed in recent weeks, spanning beef, pork, poultry and fish.

Details: A White House official tells Axios that the five-page order was driven by concern that certain processing companies, like Tyson Foods, were planning to keep only 20% of facilities open.

  • "The vast majority of processing plants could have shut down, reducing processing capacity in the country by as much as 80%," the official said.
  • The order will label processing plants as "critical infrastructure."
  • The White House also plans to work with the Labor Department to issue new guidance that would provide additional liability protections and help protect food supply workers who are at high risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19.

What they're saying: "The White House feels like it’s a critical time ... when a key part of the food supply chain was at risk of substantively reducing capacity," the official said.

  • "We see it as an urgent need, and there should not be a panic on food supply at a moment when our country is embarking on the path of recovery from the fallout of COVID."

Go deeper: Coronavirus breaks the food supply chain

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The states where face coverings are mandatory

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statewide mask mandate on Tuesday for people in public, as well as teachers and students going back to school.

The big picture: 34 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, have issued some form of a mask mandate as infections surge across the country.

Aug 6, 2020 - Health

Majority of Americans say states reopened too quickly during pandemic

Photo: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images

About 69% of U.S. adults said they worry that states reopened too quickly as the country continues to confront the coronavirus pandemic, according to a national survey released Thursday by Pew Research Center.

The big picture: Almost three-quarters of American adults said the economy would fare better if the government focused on reducing infections so consumers were more comfortable visiting restaurants and retailers. Roughly six in 10 respondents said the U.S.'s response to the pandemic has been less effective compared to other wealthy nations around the world.

Updated 18 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand confirmed Thursday there are 13 local cases linked to the four who tested positive for COVID-19, ending 102 days of no community spread. Auckland locked down Wednesday for 72 hours and the rest of NZ is under lesser restrictions.

By the numbers: Over 751,000 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and another 20.7 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. More than 12.8 million have recovered from the virus.