Covid-19 rages on among food system workers

While the nation starts to reopen unevenly, a new analysis of data collected by FERN since mid-April shows that the virus is spreading steadily among meatpacking, food processing, and farmworkers, and many states are experiencing multiple outbreaks in food and farm sectors.

“Since April 22, FERN has counted over 32,000 Covid-19 cases and 109 deaths among food-system workers,” writes Leah Douglas. “The true count is likely much higher, as data irregularities, including the industry’s reticence to share data about worker illness and the inconsistent availability of state figures, make it impossible to know exactly how many workers have contracted the virus.”

Among other findings, the new analysis shows that Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas lead in meatpacking plant cases; Washington state leads in farmworker infections; and North Carolina and Colorado lead in total number of outbreaks among states.