ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — An employee of a Missouri pork plant where hundreds of workers tested positive for the coronavirus has died from the virus.
The city of St. Joseph announced the death Wednesday night. The name of the man, a Buchanan County resident in his 40s, was not released. A news release from the city said the man had underlying health conditions.
The man worked at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, a city spokeswoman told the Kansas City Star. After nearly three dozen workers at the plant became infected last month, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services tested all asymptomatic workers at the plant from April 27 to May 1. The testing found that 412 of 2,367 workers tested positive despite showing no symptoms.
The plant remains open.
Outbreaks have become common at other meat plants across the U.S., infecting thousands of workers, leading to the closure of some plants and prompting meat shortages. Several big grocery chains this week were restricting customer purchases of meat, and Wendy’s was unable to serve hamburgers at some locations.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order last week requiring meatpacking plants to stay open. The order was widely seen as giving processors protection from liability for workers who become sick on the job, and it came after the Missouri lawsuit against Smithfield Foods.
Missouri’s health department on Wednesday reported 9,102 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 186 more than Tuesday, and deaths rose by 19 for the second straight day. The department has reported 396 coronavirus deaths.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up after two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.