SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ Virginia-based Smithfield Foods is closing its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls until further notice after hundreds of employees tested positive for the coronavirus _ a step the head of the company warns could hurt the nation's meat supply.

The announcement came Sunday, a day after South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken wrote to Smithfield and urged the company to suspend operations for 14 days so that its workers could self-isolate and the plant could be disinfected.

The plant, which employs about 3,700 people in the state's largest city, has become a hot spot for infections. Health officials said Sunday that 293 of the 730 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in South Dakota work at the plant.

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