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Program looks to provide housing for farmworkers who have tested positive for COVID-19

Posted at 10:21 AM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 13:21:58-04

Local farmworkers affected by COVID-19 are hoping to get some help from the county. Tuesday the Board of Supervisors is expected to talk about providing more support for agricultural workers who've tested positive or who've been exposed to COVID-19. 23ACB's Kylie Walker provided details.

Long time civil rights activist Dolores Huerta expressed her thoughts about the essential role that agriculture workers play in maintaining our food supply.

"They are essential workers but oftentimes they are not recognized as such. And we know that they have been working out there every single day to make sure the nation is fed while we are going through this pandemic," said Huerta.

Along with Huerta, the Community Action Partnership of Kern County (CAPK) is looking to help local farmworkers through the Housing for the Harvest program that was announced by Governor Gavin Newsom in July of this year.

"Providing temporary hotel housing so that farmworkers can isolate away from their families if they test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to it," said CAPK Chief Program Officer Traico Matthews.

Matthews said if the proposed allocation of $1 million is approved by the board of supervisors on Tuesday they will start helping local farmworkers in need as early as the weekend.

"Through the public health department and the county we do know that there is a tremendous need so we are preparing for that and just want to make sure we are ready to go so we can provide this level of support," added Matthews.

Matthews said over the next few months they will be able to support somewhere between 500 to 600 farmworkers.

"When there's a positive test we will make sure that the client is transported to a hotel that is close to where they are working and then we will make sure that they get food as long as they are in isolation. So whether that's a week or if it's two to three weeks."

And Matthews said they will continue to work with the state as cases arise but for the privacy of the clients, only CAPK and health officials will know where these hotels are located..

As for Huerta, although she thinks this is a big step forward, she would like to see more from the state for farmworkers including higher pay and guaranteed help for all despite their legal status.

"I would love it if we could have all of our workers not only our citizens and legal immigrant workers but also our undocumented workers for them to also be taken care of."

This program is only for farmworkers who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed and need to isolate from their families and coworkers.