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The Latest: SD pork plant sees over 80 COVID-19 cases

April 8, 2020 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak in South Dakota (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

A pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota operated by Smithfield Foods has seen over 80 of its employees confirmed to have the coronavirus, health officials reported on Wednesday.

United Food and Commercial Workers, the union representing employees at the Sioux Falls plant, said that the number of people with confirmed cases is higher at more than 120. Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said that her number was based on information from Tuesday.

The plant, which employs about 2,800 people, has emerged as a hot spot of infections in the state, with almost one in four people who have tested positive in South Dakota working at the plant. Employees of the plant told The Associated Press that in the last two weeks, they have felt pressured to go to work even when they felt sick. Smithfield Foods said it is taking precautions to protect its workers, including screening them for signs of COVID-19 before they enter the facilities.

Smithfield employees over 54,000 people worldwide, distributing packaged meat to 5,700 customers in 43 countries, according to the company’s website.

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12:05 p.m.

South Dakota health officials reported the largest day-to-day jump in confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday as 73 more people tested positive.

The state has tallied 393 confirmed cases, with 146 of those people reporting they have recovered. Six people in total have died from COVID-19, while 26 have required hospitalization.

Minnehaha County, the state’s most-populated area, accounted for most of the cases.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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10:30 a.m.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced on Wednesday that she has suspended South Dakota regulations covering teacher evaluations, government meetings and parole in response to the coronavirus emergency.

The Republican governor is waiving teacher evaluations, a requirement for government bodies that meet through teleconference to provide a location for the public to participate, and a law that requires parolees to spend time in jail if they fail a urine test for drugs.

Noem signed the executive order on Tuesday.

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9:40 a.m.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe says it has instituted a 72-hour lockdown on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota shortly after a school employee tested positive for the coronavirus.

It was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the reservation.

The tribe is only allowing travel for essential jobs, medical appointments and emergency grocery runs. The tribe threatened that people will be fined if they are found to be traveling for non-essential reasons.

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They are also monitoring the borders of the reservation.

The 72-hour lockdown is that began Tuesday night is scheduled to be lifted at 6 p.m. on Friday.