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GREELEY, COLORADO - APRIL 16: The Greeley JBS meat packing plant sits idle on April 16, 2020 in Greeley, Colorado. The meat packing facility has voluntarily closed until April 24 in order to test employees for the coronavirus (COVID-19) virus. As more workers test positive for the coronavirus throughout the U.S, plants in Colorado, South Dakota, and Iowa have temporarily halted production. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new congressional report says that in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, the meat processing industry worked closely with political appointees in the Trump administration to stave off health restrictions and keep slaughterhouses open even as COVID-19 spread rapidly among workers. The report issued Thursday says meat companies pushed to keep their plants open even though they knew workers were at high risk. The lobbying led to health and labor officials watering down recommendations for the industry and culminated in an executive order from President Donald Trump designating meat plants as critical infrastructure that needed to remain open. The North American Meat Institute trade group says the report distorts the truth and ignores steps companies took to protect workers.