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Tyson Foods to reopen its largest pork plant after COVID-19 outbreak

Tyson Foods says its largest US pork plant will reopen on Thursday after a major outbreak of COVID-19 forced the company to shut down the facility two weeks ago.

The plant in Waterloo, Iowa, which employs about 3,000 people, was one of several major meat processing plants to close its doors in recent weeks because of the outbreak among staff members.

The closures have led to meat shortage forecasts and purchase limits at some grocery store chains.

The Waterloo Tyson plant was linked to to 182 of the county's Covid-19 cases on April 21.

Late Tuesday, in a statement, Tyson announced the plant’s scheduled reopening.

Since closing the plant on April 22, the company said it has re-sanitized the entire facility and installed "enhanced safety precautions and protective social distancing measures" that meet or exceed standards set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The company stated that going forward, wellness health screenings will be performed on all plant employees when they arrive for work each day.

“Those screenings will include temperature checks and examinations for other Covid-19 symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath,” the company said.

The company will also be providing all employees with "facial coverings," which it will provide.

Employees working in areas where workstation barriers could not be installed will be required to use face shields. Social distance monitors will be stationed throughout the plant to ensure that employees comply with safety guidelines.

Tyson said all the plant's returning staff members have been tested for Covid-19 and plant employees who have not been tested will not be allowed to return to work.

The company said employees who have tested positive for the coronavirus will remain on sick leave until health officials say its safe for them to return to work.

Tyson also said it has doubled its bonus pay for frontline workers and plant employees who can't come to work because of illness or childcare issues related to Covid-19.

"Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, their loved ones and our communities," Tyson Waterloo plant manager Tom Hart said in a written statement.

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