Mapping Covid-19 outbreaks in the food system

[This story was updated on June 1] According to data collected by FERN, as of June 1 at 12pm ET, at least 253 meatpacking and food processing plants and 34 farms and production facilities have confirmed cases of Covid-19, and at least one meatpacking plant and four food processing plants are currently closed. At least… » Read More

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When Covid-19 hits a rural meatpacking plant, county infection rates soar to five times the average

Rural counties that contain meatpacking plants with outbreaks of Covid-19 have infection rates that are five-times higher on average than the rest of rural America. Of the rural counties with the highest infection rates, most contain slaughterhouses where workers have contracted Covid-19. These rural counties also rank among those hardest hit by the disease nationally,… » Read More

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Charting the spread of Covid-19 in the food system

Food industry workers have experienced some of the fastest-growing rates of Covid-19, which FERN has been closely tracking in the food system since mid-April. The charts below draw out some trends from that data, including the states with the most severe outbreaks, which companies have the highest number of cases, and what types of plants… » Read More

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‘The workers are being sacrificed’: As cases mounted, meatpacker JBS kept people on crowded factory floors

On her phone, Crystal Rodriguez keeps a photo of her father hooked up to a ventilator. Nurses at the hospital sent her the image after he’d spent close to a month in the intensive care unit at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado, battling severe complications from Covid-19. At 58, he was unable… » Read More

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A burst of home-grown food, farming, in Alaska

Meghan Gervais is a commercial fisherman and mother of three who lives in Homer, Alaska, a town with a single highway connecting it to the rest of the state—and to grocery supplies from the port of Anchorage. While eating local foods has always been important to her, this spring, with Covid-19 on her mind, she… » Read More

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Praying for rain

Etched into the face of a red sandstone cliff in the arid highlands of northwestern New Mexico is an unlikely image: a delicately outlined fish. Dozens of petroglyphs surround it, carved centuries ago by the ancestors of the pueblo tribes who still live in the region. They depict antelopes, humans, supernatural beings, spirals and other… » Read More

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As pandemic spreads and growing season ramps up, farmworkers deemed ‘essential’ but still largely unprotected

In Immokalee, an agricultural hub in southwest Florida known as America’s “tomato capital,” thousands of farmworkers are busy during the peak of harvest season; many of the fresh tomatoes now in grocery stores—or being delivered to doorsteps— have passed through their hands. But despite a growing outcry from workers and their advocates, little is being… » Read More

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