Closed meat plants told to submit reopening plans ASAP: agriculture secretary

Officials are trying to prevent grocery stores from running out of meat

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has directed all closed meat processing plants to submit plans to reopen as soon as possible within health guidelines, he told governors in a letter.

President Trump's April 28 executive order to keep meat processing plants open also delegated powers to Perdue, who has directed all such plants to use coronavirus-related guidance laid out by the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

60% OF EMPLOYEES TEST POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS AT TYSON MEAT PLANT

"Further action under the Executive Order and the Defense Production Act is under consideration and will be taken if necessary," Perdue wrote in the letter sent Tuesday night.

Trump signed the executive order to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure in order to keep the plants open despite coronavirus outbreaks at facilities throughout the country. Many facilities have been forced to temporarily close.

COVID-19 signage at the employee entrance of JBS USA plant. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

"I understand that State and local leaders are working diligently to protect and maintain the wellbeing of their citizens, including those who work on the front lines in critical industries, such as meat and poultry processing," Perdue wrote. "It is essential that we work together to ensure the health and safety of those who help keep food on the table during this unprecedented time."

Groceries stores are limiting the number of meat items customers can purchase at one time amid fears of a meat shortage caused by a bottleneck at processing plants.

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