As many as 373 employees and contract workers from Triumph Food in Buchanan County have tested positive for the coronavirus. The pork processing plant that is located in St Joseph on the border of Missouri and Kansas, is one of dozens of meat packaging plants and food processing facilities that shut down during the coronavirus criss.

According to a press release from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), all the infected workers were found to be asymptomatic. Testing has been ongoing since last week after the plant reopened. The DHSS said at least 1,500 workers have been tested as of 30 April.

"We appreciate the willingness from employees of Triumph Foods to be tested and the collaboration with local health care providers to help prevent further spread of COVID-19 in this community," said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS.

Raw pork
Representational image pixabay

Workers who tested positive were asked to isolate themselves at home. Mark Campbell, CEO of Triumph Foods, said they will be paid under the company's COVID wage continuation policy. The company is also providing care packages that include sanitizers and face masks to the infected workers. According to the state's Health Department website, Missouri has reported a total of 8,368 cases and 352 fatalities due to the coronavirus so far.

Government executes first phase to reopen economy

Missouri Governor Mike Parson began the first phase plan to gradually reopen economic and social activities from May 4 after the expiry of a stay-at-home-order a day before. He announced the phase one plan "Show Me Stronger Recovery" on April 27 that will go on till May 31. "With favorable data and approval from state health officials, we are ready to take another step forward in the recovery of Missouri," he said.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson
Missouri Governor Mike Parson twitter/@GovParsonMo

Citizens are allowed to return to economic and social activities but adhering to social distancing requirements during phase one. The State has allowed all businesses to reopen but some businesses are required to take extra precautions to protect employees and the public from the spread of the virus.

Authorities have released guidelines under which all businesses have to modify their workplace in order to maximize social distancing. Basic infection prevention measures should be implemented. Business travel must be cut as far as possible. A disease preparedness and response plan must be put in place. Work should be divided into different phases or split shifts. Access to common areas should be limited. Sick leave policies must be flexible and consistent with public health guidance.