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Kansas policy lets exposed meatpacking workers stay on job

Coronavirus in Kansas

Workers wear protective masks as they walk outside the National Beef meatpacking plant, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Dodge City, Kan. Ford County, home to Dodge City, has the most positive COVID-19 tests per capita in the state in large part due to outbreaks in the county’s two meatpacking plants. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Emails and text messages show Kansas softened its quarantine guidelines for meatpacking plants after industry executives repeatedly pushed state officials so employees who were potentially exposed to the coronavirus could continue working.

The Kansas City Star and The Wichita Eagle reports that they obtained messages through an open-records request.

The newspapers report the documents show that executives at Tyson and National Beef pushed Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam to adopt more lenient guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowing meatpacking employees who have come into close contact with positive cases to stay on the job if they had no symptoms.

The state had previously advised contacts to quarantine for two weeks. 

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