Documenting COVID-19

The Meatpacking Project

The Meatpacking Project tracks outbreaks at U.S. meatpacking and processing facilities and has filed more than 150 records requests across 12 states for internal emails, complaint data and inspection reports related to the COVID-19 pandmeic.

The records highlight ongoing underreporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths at meatpacking facilities, which were deemed "essential infrastructure" by a Trump administration executive order on April 28 through the Defense Production Act. They also shed light on the more than 16,000 cases of COVID-19 at plants across the country, including at JBS, Smithfield and Tyson facilities. A vast majority of these cases were among racial and ethnic minorities and undocumented immigrants.

As part of this project, our coverage resulted in the state of Kansas releasing weekly reports on outbreaks by specific facilities and shed light on meatpacking outbreaks which were held from disclosure by North Carolina officials. The project is led by New York-based investigative journalist Derek Kravitz, who can be reached at drk2134@columbia.edu.

The Brown Institute

Record Set(s)

City of Vernon COVID-19 emails and Smithfield outbreak response

Date Updated: March 8, 2021

Date Added: February 19, 2021

Vernon, CA

Principal Subject: City of Vernon Director of Health and Environmental Control Frederick Agyin

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Newyago County Administrator Christopher Wren and County Emergency Manage Abby Watkins regarding local response to COVID-19, including response to the outbreak at the Smithfield-owned Farmer John Plant.

Date Range: May 10, 2020 to June 20, 2021

Format Details: .pdf (2.4MB, 155 pages)

Linn County Department of Health COVID-19 emails and migrant farm response

Date Updated: February 18, 2021

Date Added: February 18, 2021

Linn, IA

Principal Subject: Linn County Health Director Pramod Dwivedi

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Linn County Health Director Pramod Dwivedi regarding local response to COVID-19, including migrant farm response.

Date Range: October 1 to December 20, 2020

Format Details: .pdf (37.1MB, 669 pages)

Ogle County Health Department case files related to Rochelle Foods

Date Updated: February 8, 2021

Date Added: January 18, 2021

Ogle County, IL

Principal Subject: Ogle County Health Department Public Health Administrator Kyle Auman

Emails, case investigation summaries, a CDC report, subpoenas and other files related to Rochelle Foods in Rochelle, Illinois; This file includes subpoenas related to a workers' compensation claim for records with Rochelle Foods, the Rochelle Police Department and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

Date Range: March 1, 2020, to February 5, 2021

Format Details: .pdf (115 pages, 18.2 MB)

Utah Governor's Office COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: December 23, 2020

Date Added: August 26, 2020

Utah County, UT

Principal Subject: Utah Governor Gary Herbert

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in Utah County including meatpacking plants.

Date Range: March 17 to August 12, 2020

Format Details: .pdf portfolio 1,152 pages with embedded attachments, including .xlsx, .docx, and .mov (199.1 MB, requires a full download)

Illinois ERC facility outbreak reports

Date Updated: October 7, 2020

Date Added: October 7, 2020

IL

Highlighted Documents: September 1 ERC report September 30 ERC report July 24 ERC report August 14 ERC report

This internal data — prepared by the Illinois Department of Public Health and covering four different days between July and September — was obtained as part of an open-records request to a county health department. The confidential data on the outbreaks in the Springfield region and across the state shows that coronavirus outbreaks in workplaces, schools, meatpacking facilities and prisons are driving Illinois’ rising cases — and many of these outbreaks have never been made public.

Date Range: July 24 to September 30, 2020

Format Details: .xls (4 files)

Robeson County Health Department COVID-19 and Smithfield emails and response

Date Updated: September 2, 2020

Date Added: July 20, 2020

Robeson County, NC

Principal Subject: Robeson County Health Department Director Wiliam J. Smith

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Director Wiliam J. Smith regarding local response to COVID-19 and the Smithfield facility.

Date Range: April 1 to June 12, 2020

Format Details: .pdf with copied attachments (10 pages, 5.1 MB)

Duplin County Health Department COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: July 21, 2020

Date Added: July 21, 2020

Duplin County, NC

Highlighted Documents: List of North Carolina meat processing plants with outbreaks as of May 1

Principal Subject: Duplin County Health Director Tracey Simmons-Kornegay

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Health Director Tracey Simmons-Kornegay regarding local response to COVID-19.

Date Range: March 31 to May 18, 2020

Format Details: .pdf (230 pages)

Wilkes County Health Department COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: July 20, 2020

Date Added: July 20, 2020

Wilkes County, NC

Principal Subject: Health Director and CEO Rachel M. Willard

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Health Director and CEO Rachel M. Willard regarding local response to COVID-19 and the Tyson facility.

Format Details: .zip of individual .eml files (40.3 MB)

Bear River Health Department COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: July 16, 2020

Date Added: July 16, 2020

Cache, Rich and Box Elder counties, UT

Principal Subject: Health Director Lloyd Berentzen

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Health Director Lloyd Berentzen regarding local response to COVID-19.

Date Range: June 1 to June 16, 2020

Format Details: .pdf with copied attachments (65 pages, 26.4 MB)

Nebraska governor's office COVID-19 emails and meatpacking facility response

Date Updated: July 13, 2020

Date Added: July 13, 2020

NE

Highlighted Documents: Nebraska state health testing data, May

Principal Subject: Matt Miltenberger, chief of staff to Governor Pete Ricketts

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Matt Miltenberger, chief of staff to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, regarding statewide response to COVID-19 as it relates to meatpacking facilities and JBS.

Date Range: March 1 to June 24, 2020

Format Details: .pdf with copied attachments (439 pages, 188.2 MB, duplicative material)

Weld County COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: July 13, 2020

Date Added: July 12, 2020

Weld County, CO

Highlighted Documents: JBS Colorado closure letter, April 10 JBS Colorado closure order, April 10 Weld County COVID-19 case counts, March 31

Principal Subject: Former Weld County Director of Public Health & Environment Mark Wallace and Weld County Sheriff Steven Reams

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to former Weld County Director of Public Health & Environment Mark Wallace and Weld County Sheriff Steven Reams regarding local response to COVID-19.

Date Range: March 1 to June 23, 2020

Format Details: .pdf with attachments, including .xlsx, .ppt and .docx formats (7,359 pages, 486.5 MB)

Wyandotte County Health COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: July 13, 2020

Date Added: July 13, 2020

Wyandotte County, KS

Principal Subject: Terrie Garrison, interim director, Wyandotte County Unified Government Public Health Department

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Terrie Garrison, interim director of the Wyandotte County Unified Government Public Health Department, regarding local response to COVID-19.

Date Range: January 30 to May 14, 2020

Format Details: .pdf without attachments (469 pages, 3.6 MB)

Seward County Health COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: July 13, 2020

Date Added: July 13, 2020

Seward County, KS

Highlighted Documents: Kansas statewide facility outbreak snapshots, April and May

Principal Subject: Seward County Health Department Director Martha Brown

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Seward County Health Department Director Martha Brown regarding local response to COVID-19.

Date Range: March 4 to May 21, 2020

Format Details: .pdf with copied attachments (4,553 pages, 402.7 MB, duplicative material)

Stearns County Public Health COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: July 12, 2020

Date Added: July 12, 2020

Stearns County, MN

Principal Subject: Renee Frauendienst, Stearns County Public Health Division Director

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Renee Frauendienst, Stearns County Public Health Division Director, regarding local response to COVID-19.

Date Range: April 15 to May 26, 2020

Format Details: .pdf portfolio with embedded attachments, including .xlsx, .doc and .ppt (267.7 MB, not viewable online and requires a full download)

St. Joseph Health Department COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: July 12, 2020

Date Added: June 19, 2020

St. Joseph, MO

Principal Subject: City of St. Joseph Health Director Debra Bradley

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to St. Joseph Health Director Debra Bradley regarding local response to COVID-19.

Date Range: March 12 to May 13, 2020

Format Details: .pdf without attachments (8 MB)

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