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story.lead_photo.caption STAFF PHOTO The sign outside of the Tyson World Headquarters in Springdale.

Tyson Foods Inc. is temporarily closing a poultry plant in North Carolina for deep cleaning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Production idled Thursday and is scheduled to resume Tuesday, Tyson spokesman Derek Burleson said in an email Friday. The processing plant is one of two that handle live poultry at Tyson's Wilkesboro complex.

The Springdale-based company said it was cleaning the chicken plant because several employees had tested positive for covid-19 and were missing work, among other reasons. The other live chicken plant is running limited operations at the complex while a third food-service plant is operating as normal, Burleson said.

U.S. meatpacking plants were ordered to continue operating under the Defense Production Act last month, despite thousands of workers contracting the virus and at least 35 related deaths, according to a letter signed by 29 Democratic senators on Friday. They have concerns the plants aren't adhering to federal safety guidelines.

When operations resume, Tyson said there will be onsite testing for the virus, daily symptom screenings and other improvements so the workers feel safe at its complex.

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