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Meat-processing plants remain source of concern for new COVID-19 outbreaks

The pace of new U.S. fatalities from COVID-19 has been slowing as the pandemic's toll nears a milestone of 100,000 deaths. Still, restrictions are being lifted, and more economic activity is resuming. On Tuesday, the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange was partially opened for the first time since March. But concerns remain, especially around meat-packing facilities. Stephanie Sy reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The pace of COVID-19 deaths across the United States is slowing tonight, but the total is nearing a new threshold, 100,000.

    At the same time, the nation's reopening keeps moving ahead, led by a major American financial institution.

    Stephanie Sy begins our coverage.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Stephanie Sy:

    An opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange that may go down in history.

    (BELL RINGING)

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Governor Andrew Cuomo did the honors wearing a mask, the now telltale symbol of the pandemic. With that, the trading floor partially reopened for the first time in two months.

    The normally buzzing space saw only a few brokers return in person, and most employees will continue to work remotely for now. Cuomo said the opening, after Memorial Day, marked a critical moment.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    We're going to turn the page on COVID-19, and we're going to start focusing on reopening and how we reopen and how smart we are in reopening.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    But even as some New York suburbs entered the first phase of relaxed restrictions, Cuomo also highlighted data that low-income and minority communities are still experiencing double the infection rates of the rest of the city.

    In California, churches are starting to open their doors.

  • Rev. Amos Brown:

    We reserve the right ourselves to determine the things that we should do that would be in the interest of our people.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    After heated debate, the state laid out a plan this week to let individual counties decide when houses of worship should reopen.

    Meanwhile, at the White House today:

  • President Donald Trump:

    We need people that are going to be leading us in faith. And we're opening them up. And if I have to, I will override any governor that wants to play games. If they want to play games, that's OK. But we will win.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    One top White House staffer, Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's press secretary, returned to work today, after a series of negative COVID tests. She tested positive earlier this month, prompting the White House to mandate face masks for all staff.

    But even as the slow march toward normal progresses, there are new fears over meatpacking facilities, where workers continue to get sick. The Washington Post reported today that there are 11,000 COVID-19 cases linked to three major meat producers, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, and JBS.

    Each of those companies has taken steps to slow the spread of the virus. Still, plant closures and worker shortages have strained the nation's meat supply.

    Overseas, in India, the number of new infections climbed for the seventh straight day. Cases have surged since the country lifted lockdown orders. Despite that, limited domestic air travel resumes there this week, with employees disinfecting bags and some travelers wearing conspicuous safety gear.

  • Bashir Ahmad Zargar:

    Coronavirus is very dangerous. We have to accept it, and we have to take all those measures which the government is asking us to do.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    In Russia today, authorities reported the highest daily death toll there yet. The country has the third highest number of infections in the world, but the government has reported a relatively low mortality rate.

    Russian officials have denied that they are deliberately underreporting COVID deaths.

    On the global economic front, French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled an $8.8 billion plan to save the hard-hit French auto industry. And in South America, the continent's largest air carrier, LATAM Airlines, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection, citing a collapse in demand, that as a U.S. ban on foreign travelers from Brazil took effect today.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As Wall Street welcomed back traders to the floor of the stock exchange today, traders welcomed the moment.

    The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 530 points to close at 24995. The Nasdaq rose 15 points, and the S&P 500 added 36.

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