Texas meat plant city becomes coronavirus hot spot amid increased testing

Amarillo area is home to a Tyson Foods plant

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The Amarillo, Texas, area has been identified as a coronavirus hot spot after increased testing of meat plant employees at the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott added more than 700 cases over the weekend.

"As Texas continues ramping up its testing capabilities, there will be an increase in positive cases as the state targets the most high-risk areas: nursing homes, meat packing plants and jails," Abbott said in a statement. "By immediately deploying resources and supplies to these high risk areas, we will identify the positive cases, isolate the individuals and ensure any outbreak is quickly contained, which is the strategy being deployed in Amarillo."

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Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson thanked Tyson Foods for its "cooperation" after all 3,587 employees at a Tyson beef plant in Amarillo were tested, according to High Plains Public Radio. The plant resumed operations Monday.

Residents are tested for COVID-19 by the San Antonio Fire Department at a free walk-up test site set up to help underserved and minority communities in San Antonio, Thursday, May 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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Potter and Randall counties, which encompass Amarillo, have a combined 2,731 coronavirus cases. Harris County, Texas' most populated, has 9,126.

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"Tyson Foods has been working closely with local health officials and has conducted large-scale COVID-19 testing at our Amarillo facility," a company spokesperson told FOX Business. "We will disclose verified test results with health and government officials, team members and other stakeholders once complete data is available as part of our efforts to help communities where we operate better understand the coronavirus and the protective measures that can be taken to help prevent its spread."

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Meanwhile, a JBS meatpacking plant north of Amarillo reversed course last week and will work with state and local officials to start testing employees Thursday, a JBS spokesperson told FOX Business. The plant in Cactus, Texas, employs approximately 3,000 people, according to the Texas Tribune.

Meat processing plants have been at the center of coronavirus hot spots in many rural states with otherwise low case counts, including South Dakota and its Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls.

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