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After delay, Texas meatpacking plants agrees to testing

May 13, 2020 GMT

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — A meatpacking plant in the Texas Panhandle on Wednesday accepted the state’s offer to test employees for the coronavirus as officials try to contain a cluster of infections connected to the facility.

State emergency management officials initially said JBS USA had not agreed to have the state test workers at its facility near Amarillo. Hours later the company said it would accept the offer but still needed to work out the details of how to do it.

Testing will start late next week, company spokeswoman Nikki Richardson said. The facility employs about 3,000 workers.

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“We are coordinating with local and state officials regarding testing,” Richardson said.

State officials and the company did not explain the delay or say what still needed to be worked out.

Hundreds of cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the JBS plant in Moore County and Gov. Greg Abbott has singled out the county as an area of concern. Texas created surge response teams to respond to outbreaks like those in the meatpacking plants as part of the state’s move to reopen the economy earlier this month.

The Amarillo area is responsible for 25% of the nation’s fed beef supply. Virus outbreaks at meatpacking plants threatened the nation’s supply of pork and beef and President Donald Trump has ordered them to remain open.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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Check out more of the AP’s coronavirus coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak