Mapping Covid-19 outbreaks in the food system

Since April, FERN has been closely tracking the spread of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants, food processing facilities, and farms. This dashboard is home to our latest reporting on Covid-19 cases and food system workers, and is updated each weekday.

According to data collected by FERN, as of September 18 at 12pm ET, at least 804 meatpacking and food processing plants (496 meatpacking and 308 food processing) and 106 farms and production facilities have had confirmed cases of Covid-19. At least 59,430 workers (42,606 meatpacking workers, 9,571 food processing workers, and 7,253 farmworkers) have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 254 workers (203 meatpacking workers, 35 food processing workers, and 16 farmworkers) have died.

The interactive map below shows the location of plants and farms where cases of Covid-19 and/or deaths have been reported. Hover over the icons for details on each facility. In some locations, you’ll need to zoom in to see all of the affected facilities. To see a larger version of this map, click here.

The chart below shows the growth in the total number of Covid-19 cases among food system workers over the course of the pandemic. The dropdown menu allows you to view each sector individually for a better look at how cases have risen over time. To see a larger version of this chart, click here.

The chart below shows how many Covid-19 cases were reported each day among food system workers since March 26. The dropdown menu allows you to view each sector individually for a better look at whether more or fewer cases have been reported in each sector over time. To see a larger version of this chart, click here.

The chart below shows the growth in the total number of Covid-19 deaths among food system workers over the course of the pandemic. The dropdown menu allows you to view each sector individually for a better look at how deaths have risen over time. To see a larger version of this chart, click here.

The chart below shows how many Covid-19 deaths were reported each day among food system workers since March 26. The dropdown menu allows you to view each sector individually for a better look at whether more or fewer deaths have been reported in each sector over time. To see a larger version of this chart, click here.

The map below uses pie charts to visualize the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in the food system by sector, overlaid with the number of cases in the food sector in each state. The size of the pie chart is relative to how many outbreaks each state has had since the pandemic began. (Note: The ‘other’ category is used when data was provided for multiple sectors in one cumulative total.) Hover over the pie chart sections to see a breakdown by sector. To see a larger version of this map, click here.

The diagram below shows which companies are responsible for the highest number of Covid-19 cases among workers. Hover over each bubble to see more information, and search by company for more detail. To see a larger version of this chart, click here.

The diagram below shows which companies are responsible for the highest number of Covid-19 deaths among workers. Hover over each bubble to see more information, and search by company for more detail. To see a larger version of this chart, click here.

The header GIF visualizes the spread of Covid-19 outbreaks from mid-April to mid-July. All visuals and reporting by Leah Douglas.

A note on methodology

The data represented in these maps and charts 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).