Following COVID-19 outbreak at Wasco farm, officials calling for more attention to ag workers

Posted at 3:33 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 18:34:14-04

WASCO, Calif. — Farmworkers at a local farm in Wasco have tested positive for COVID-19 causing the farm to close completely to thoroughly clean everything. Now officials are calling on more help for those in our agriculture industry.

Executive Director of the California Farmworker Foundation Hernan Hernandez said he thinks the state and federal government need to designate more Personal Protective Equipment for farmworkers.

"One example, for us here in Kern County we distributed over 100,000 facemasks for farmworkers just in this county alone," Hernandez said. "The plan for us alone is to distribute 250,000 over the next two weeks."

Hernandez said the state issuing $52 million to support the Central Valley is just a start to helping the problem.

"Farmworkers, they should be at the forefront when it comes to help and aid because they sustain the world's economy."

Tracking the spread of COVID-19 among farmworkers, or any specific occupation, is difficult because patients are not required to list their occupation when they get tests. But all that could change.

Assembly Bill 685 is currently making its way through the California legislature, but if passed employers would be required to provide a 24-hour notice to all employees at a worksite should any worker be exposed to COVID-19 and required to report a workplace COVID-19 positive test, diagnosis, order to quarantine or isolate, or death that could be COVID-19 related to Cal/OSHA and the California Department of Public Health.

The bill would also require the Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the State Department of Public Health to make the information publicly available on their internet websites, as specified.