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PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Tyson Foods gave away 40,000 pounds of chicken to hundreds of people in Arkansas to lend a helping hand amid the new coronavirus global pandemic that has upended life nationwide.

The giveaway Monday in Pine Bluff offered people from all over the state 10-pound variety bags of pre-cooked chicken strips in several flavors, pre-cooked popcorn chicken, buffalo-style chicken wings, uncooked leg quarters and other selections, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Tuesday.

"We want to make sure everyone gets a variety," said Jacqueline Ross, director of Delta Regional Community Services Outreach Network in Pine Bluff, which helped organize the food distribution. "We try to make sure we don't put 10 pounds of the same thing in a bag."

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday announced two people have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. The number of coronavirus cases in the state rose from 201 on Monday to at least 218.

Since the beginning of this month, Tyson donated more than 2.6 million pounds of product in 18 states, including a million pounds in Arkansas alone, according to Derek Burleson, the company's public relations manager.

The Springdale-based company aims to deliver four million pounds of food to food pantries by the end of the month to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

"That is equivalent to about 16 million meals," said Burleson, adding that most of the food is distributed through the Feeding America Food Bank Network or through community food pantries in communities that Tyson serves.

Bill Hall, the Tyson truck driver who helped delivered the food Monday, said that he has traveled on many food giveaway trips during his time with the company.

"They do these all over and they have for years," Hall said. "I've delivered to food banks all over the country."

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