Covid Live Updates: Mask State News, Vaccines & Cases

credit…Michael Conroy/The Associated Press

Tyson Foods, one of the first nationwide employers Covid state vaccines for its employeesis moving to ease mask requirements for its employees 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.

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

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

A spokesman 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 company 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 as it spreads, posing 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.

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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. It did a factory-wide coronavirus test and She hired her first medical officer.

In August, the company announced a vaccine demand for packing houses 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. The company has hosted more than 100 clinics that offer booster shots, he said, 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.

Tyson’s relaxation of its mask rules is conditional on local and other applicable laws, as well as federal regulations, that 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.

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

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