Covid Live Updates: Mask State News, Vaccines & Cases

credit…Michael Conroy/The Associated Press

Tyson Foods, one of the first nationwide employers Assigning vaccinations to its employeesis moving to ease mask requirements for its employees, a decision that comes as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States declines.

The meatpacking giant said Tuesday that fully vaccinated workers at “some facilities” could begin removing their masks at work. She joined companies like Walmart and countries like New York that moved to ease restrictions Hoping to achieve a new normal In the absence of revised national guidelines.

“Due to our many efforts and, most importantly, the state of the company-wide vaccination, we have seen lower rates of Covid-19 infection, as well as very low rates of critical illness in Tyson,” Tom Brower, corporate vice president of health and safety, said in a note. for employees.

“In recent weeks, the number of active cases in Tyson has decreased significantly,” he added.

A spokesperson for Tyson said the company had “productive and ongoing conversations with union representatives about the policy change.”

Tyson employs 120,000 workers in more than a dozen States. The long hours they spend working in confined spaces make them more vulnerable to contracting the virus. The meat giant was criticized early in the pandemic for failing to do enough to protect its workers from the coronavirus that has killed more than 100 of its employees.

Slaughterhouses have become hot spots Corona virus during its spread, which poses a serious challenge to meat production. In April 2020, President Donald J. Trump said that the slaughter and processing of beef, chicken, and pork was a “critical infrastructure,” Allow plants to remain open Despite the increasing number of deaths among their workers. The arrangement came after weeks of industry pressure led by Tyson.

newly Congress report He said that at the Tyson plant in Amarillo, Texas, inspectors noticed that many employees were working with “saturated” masks. At a pork factory in Waterloo, Iowa, dozens of workers fell ill and three died. Local officials, including the county mayor, said The company initially refused their requests To close the factory in the spring of 2020.

Tyson says it has spent more than $810 million on coronavirus safety measures and new medical services at the site. Conducted factory level coronavirus tests and She hired her first medical officer.

In August, the company announced a vaccine demand for packaging plants and poultry plants, many of them in the South and Midwest, where vaccine resistance was high. By November, more than 96 percent of its workforce had been vaccinated.

Tyson defines a full vaccination as two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Brower said Tuesday. Mr. Brewer said the company has hosted more than 100 clinics that offer booster shots and continues to “strongly encourage” the use of booster shots for employees.

The number of coronavirus cases has decreased About 80 percent nationwide since its peak in Januaryto a national average of 155,000 per day, about the same rate as in late December.

For Tyson, the relaxation of mask rules is conditional on local and other applicable laws, as well as federal regulations, which require continued use of masks in Some facilitiesMr. Brewer said, depending on the transmission rate. Tyson plans to notify employees soon which factories and offices will be affected by the change.

It is also reviewing – and considering amending – social distancing and testing guidelines.

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