Updated Apr 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump orders meat processing plants to stay open during coronavirus pandemic

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

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: Over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Nearly 354,000 Americans have recovered and over 15.1 million tests have been conducted. California became the fourth state with at least 100,000 reported cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

World coronavirus updates

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

New Zealand has only eight active novel coronavirus cases and no COVID-19 patients in hospital after another day of zero new infections. However, the death toll rose to 22.

Zoom in: A top health official told a briefing a 96-year-old woman "was regarded to having recovered from COVID-19 at the time of her death, and COVID-19 is not recorded as the primary cause of her death on her death certificate." But it was decided to include her in the overall tally of deaths related to the virus.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 5,690,951 — Total deaths: 355,575 — Total recoveries — 2,350,071Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,699,073 — Total deaths: 100,396 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: CDC issues guidelines for reopening officesFauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. World: EU proposes a massive pandemic rescue package.
  8. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  9. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  10. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy