The rate of Covid-19 infection among farmworkers in California’s Salinas Valley was four times higher than in the rest of the local population, according to a new study published by JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. Based on a survey of more than a thousand workers done between July and November 2020, the study described a strong correlation between high rates of infection and the conditions that farmworkers face in their day-to-day lives, including overcrowded housing and a lack of workplace benefits like paid medical leave.(No paywall)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new $700 million grant program to provide direct financial relief to U.S. farm and meatpacking workers hit hard by Covid-19. But it was unclear whether undocumented immigrants, who make up roughly half of all farmworkers and nearly a quarter of meatpacking workers, would be eligible.
Rural communities are bearing the brunt of new Covid-19 cases nationwide with the pandemic in its seventh month, said a report from the Center for American Progress on Wednesday. "Since the beginning of August, the rural share of new cases has exceeded the rural share of the U.S. population."
Forty percent of the poultry plants participating in the USDA's controversial line speed waiver program have had Covid-19 outbreaks, according to an analysis of FERN’s outbreaks database. Labor advocates have warned that faster speeds on crowded processing lines could expose slaughterhouse workers to a greater risk of Covid-19, and even the top federal workplace authority has suggested that meatpackers reduce line speeds to curb the spread of the virus.(No paywall)
While the nation starts to reopen unevenly, a new analysis of data collected by FERN since mid-April shows that the virus is spreading steadily among meatpacking, food processing, and farmworkers, and many states are experiencing multiple outbreaks in food and farm sectors. (No paywall)