U.S. Flint Hills to keep non-essential staff out of Pine Bend refinery after Thanksgiving holiday

Flint Hills Resources will keep non-essential staff out its of 375,000-bpd Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota, for one week after Thanksgiving to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The plant is expected to continue operating normally. The decision affects most refinery staff and outside contractors other than those essential to the plant's operations, according to the source.

The company declined to comment on the decision, but a spokesman said Flint Hills continues to focus on operations and the health and safety of its staff.

Minnesota has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. The state's health department reported 6,423 newly confirmed or probable cases of the disease on Tuesday, as well as 38 additional deaths.

Millions of Americans have flocked to airports and highways in the days before Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. surgeon general and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

This has led to the busiest U.S. travel period since the early days of the pandemic in March, though well below pre-pandemic holiday levels.

The daily U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 on Tuesday for the first time since May.

(Reporting by Laura Sanicola; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy)

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