Meat workers slowly returning to Nebraska plant hit by virus

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska meatpacking plant that was forced to shut down because of a coronavirus among its workers is slowly ramping up its operations, but nearly 800 employees are still on leave after they became infected.

The Tyson Foods beef plant in Dakota City said in a statement that the company is past the peak of active coronavirus cases among its workforce. Company officials said they've resumed two shifts of operations and the number of employees on leave is decreasing.

Plant officials said 786 of the local workers were infected with the virus as of May 29, but many of them did not show any symptoms. Employees who tested positive were given paid leave and allowed to return only after they had met federal safety guidelines.

“The health and safety of our team members is our top priority,” the statement said.

Statewide, the virus has killed 178 people and infected 14,345 as of Tuesday morning, according to Nebraska's online tracking portal. More than 106,500 people have been tested. State officials confirmed 244 new cases on Monday.

Hospital capacity is still relatively stable in Nebraska, with 46% of hospital beds, 49% of intensive care unit beds and 76% of ventilators available.