President Donald Trump issued an executive order last week requiring meatpacking plants to stay open. The order was widely seen as giving processors protection from liability for workers who become sick on the job, and it came after the Missouri lawsuit against Smithfield Foods.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — More than 50,000 Missourians filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, marking the third straight week the number has dropped, the state labor department said Thursday.

The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said 52,203 people filed initial jobless claims last week, down from 54,710 the previous week. The numbers began to decline after 101,722 people filed claims the week of April 11.

A total of 495,392 people have filed claims since the week of March 21, when many local governments began instituting stay-at-home orders.

Nationally, nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers across the U.S. who applied for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 2, labor officials said.

The city of St. Joseph announced Wednesday night that an employee at a pork plant in that city where hundreds of workers tested positive for the coronavirus has died from the virus.

The name of the man, a Buchanan County resident in his 40s, was not released. A news release from the city said the man had underlying health conditions.

The man worked at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, a city spokeswoman told the Kansas City Star. After nearly three dozen workers at the plant became infected last month, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services tested all asymptomatic workers at the plant from April 27 to May 1. The testing found that 412 of 2,367 workers tested positive despite showing no symptoms.

The plant remains open.

Outbreaks have become common at other meat plants across the U.S., infecting thousands of workers, leading to the closure of some plants and prompting meat shortages. Several big grocery chains this week were restricting customer purchases of meat, and Wendy’s was unable to serve hamburgers at some locations.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order last week requiring meatpacking plants to stay open. The order was widely seen as giving processors protection from liability for workers who become sick on the job, and it came after the Missouri lawsuit against Smithfield Foods.

Missouri's health department on Wednesday reported 9,102 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 186 more than Tuesday, and deaths rose by 19 for the second straight day. The department has reported 396 coronavirus deaths.

Another inmate and four additional staff members at the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston have tested positive for the coronavirus. Since the pandemic began, 31 inmates and nine staff members have tested positive, the Sikeston Standard Democrat reported.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up after two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

SEARCHABLE MAP: Coronavirus death rates and cases for every US county: https://interactives.courier-journal.com/projects/cv19/map/ 

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