Meat processing plants trying to contain virus at Kansas facilities

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Coronavirus is impacting the food production industry in Kansas.

Multiple meat processing plants in southwest Kansas, as well as Lyon County, are seeing workers out sick with the coronavirus.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam said he’s talking with the large plants to make sure food production in the state remains high.

“I’ve actually had conversations almost daily for the last 30 days with these entities trying to make sure we keep them operating,” Beam said.

This weekend, the federal government sent protective equipment and 7,000 tests to stop the spread in the critical industry. Governor Laura Kelly said Senator Pat Roberts and Senator Jerry Moran helped secure the materials for the state.

According to the department of agriculture, the state exports about a fourth of the country’s fresh beef.

In large plants, employees would normally be working right next to each other, but companies are trying to take precautions.

“They’re spreading people out where they can, and they are installing individual shields between workers, making sure they all have facial protection, so those are steps to minimize that,” Beam said. “They are implementing significant changes in their facilities to protect the health and safety of their employees, and their local communities while maintaining the continuity of the food supply chain.”

Beam said there has been some slowing down in production due to more cleaning and employees out sick, but this is not causing a food shortage.

Officials say there is no evidence the virus is being transmitted through food packaging at this time.

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