Mapping Covid-19 outbreaks in the food system

[This story was updated on July 9]

According to data collected by FERN, as of July 9 at 12pm ET, at least 476 meatpacking and food processing plants (367 meatpacking and 109 food processing) and 63 farms and production facilities have had confirmed cases of Covid-19. At least 42,550 workers (34,961 meatpacking workers, 3,565 food processing workers, and 4,024 farmworkers) have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 159 workers (144 meatpacking workers, 13 food processing workers, and 2 farmworkers) have died.

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A beef plant in Colorado. A pork plant in Iowa. A hamburger plant in Pennsylvania. Since mid-March, outbreaks of Covid-19 have appeared in meatpacking plants across the country, infecting thousands of workers. The coronavirus has also reached workers in processed food facilities, which make frozen dinners, baked goods, and dairy products. And slowly, outbreaks are arriving at farms and ranches.

The map below shows the location of meat processing plants, food processing plants, and farms or ranches where cases of Covid-19 and/or deaths from the disease have been reported. Hover over the icons for details on the plants. In some locations, you’ll need to zoom in to see all of the affected plants.

According to data collected by FERN, as of July 9 at 12pm ET, at least 476 meatpacking and food processing plants (367 meatpacking and 109 food processing) and 63 farms and production facilities have had confirmed cases of Covid-19. At least 42,550 workers (34,961 meatpacking workers, 3,565 food processing workers, and 4,024 farmworkers) have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 159 workers (144 meatpacking workers, 13 food processing workers, and 2 farmworkers) have died.

A note on methodology

The data represented on this map is primarily collected from local news reports, with additional information gathered from state health authorities and, on occasion, from companies with outbreaks. The data accounts for the May 1 and July 7 reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tallied meatpacking plant outbreaks in 23 states. In instances where local reports reflected higher numbers than the CDC as of those dates, we used the local reports.

The data used represents the best available case and death counts among food system workers, and avoids figures that count workers’ close contacts or relatives in the cumulative total of cases and deaths associated with a facility. The map primarily plots facilities where specific figures for worker cases and deaths are available, and in some cases counties where cumulative case figures are available.

In the case of facilities where non-precise figures are available (e.g., “405 workers were tested and approximately 50% of the tests were positive”), the calculated caseload is rounded down in the interest of accuracy. The total case, death, and facility counts also include cumulative figures from states, counties, and regions where available (e.g., “Smith County has 1,000 cases among farm workers at 10 farms”). The map data and total cumulative figures have been updated every weekday since April 22.

If you have questions about methodology, or if you know of an outbreak that is not reflected on the map, contact Leah Douglas (leah@thefern.org).

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