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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

Go deeper

Updated Dec 8, 2020 - Health

The states where face coverings are mandatory

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

Wyoming on Monday became the latest state to implement a mask mandate to fight COVID-19, amid a steep spike in cases across the country.

The big picture: States are reintroducing mitigation efforts like closing businesses and advising people to stay home as the U.S. averages the most daily cases of any point in the pandemic.

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 Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."