Pandemic and protest in a meatpacking town

Last March, Maira Mendez, a high school administrator in Lincoln, Nebraska, worried her parents might contract coronavirus from their jobs at Smithfield Foods, a massive pork processing plant in the nearby town of Crete. While the country grappled with stay-at-home orders, meatpacking plants across the nation quickly became invisible hotspots for the virus. Mendez and… » Read More

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As Covid-19 cases spike, an unprecedented alliance emerges to protect California farmworkers

Advocates have warned since the beginning of the pandemic that the 2.4 million farmworkers who plant and harvest the nation’s food live and labor under conditions that make them extremely vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. And now, just as they predicted, outbreaks among farmworkers have erupted in agricultural hubs across the country as peak summer… » Read More

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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 August 11 at 12pm ET, at least 732… » Read More

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With thousands of seafood workers coming to Alaska, state tries to contain Covid-19

Two months ago, local leaders in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay, a 250-mile-long inlet in the Bering Sea, begged the state’s governor to consider canceling the commercial sockeye salmon season. They feared that Covid-19 would spread through the region’s small villages, which have scant health resources. Now, preparations for this fishery, which starts in a matter… » Read More

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How did Europe avoid the Covid-19 catastrophe ravaging U.S. meatpacking plants?

BERGERAC, France — In late April, around the time that President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring U.S. meatpacking plants to be “critical infrastructure” in an effort to keep them open after they emerged as coronavirus hotspots, Germany’s slaughterhouses reported their first cases of the virus. In the ensuing weeks, as the number of… » Read More

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