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Meat shelves lay empty at a supermarket in Saugus, Mass. on March 13, 2020. Photo: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, is suspending operations at its largest pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, the company announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The closure "further contributes to the disruption of the nation’s pork supply," per the company. It comes as the meat industry has slowed production, leading to price increases, as plant workers across the country have fallen ill with the coronavirus.

  • Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, also announced three plant closures in recent days, including a pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D. At least 644 coronavirus cases were traced back to that facility.

What they're saying: “Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production." said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats, in a news release.

  • “The closure has significant ramifications beyond our company, since the plant is part of a larger supply chain that includes hundreds of independent farmers, truckers, distributors and customers, including grocers,” Stouffer said.
  • “It means the loss of a vital market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation’s pork supply.” 

Go deeper

Updated Jul 31, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus testing still can't keep up with demand

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Testing is once again becoming a critical weakness in the America's response to the coronavirus pandemic, and experts say we may need to revive tighter standards about who can get a test.

Why it matters: Although testing has gotten a lot better over the course of the pandemic, the pandemic has gotten worse, and that means the U.S. needs to prioritize its resources — which might mean that frequent testing solely to help open businesses or schools just isn't feasible.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jul 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

Health care industry tops list of most-favored amid coronavirus

Data: Harris Poll COVID19 Tracker Wave 20; Chart: Axios Visuals

Doctors, nurses and hospitals have experienced a greater increase in consumer trust and confidence than any other industry during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Axios/Harris poll.