Understanding COVID-19’s Impact on California Farmworkers

California is in the midst of a COVID-19 crisis that continues to get worse. On December 15, 2020, the state shattered a record by reporting more than 42,000 coronavirus cases in a single day. With this grim new statistic, the state averages about 33,000 new cases per day – and a disproportionate number of these cases affect California’s farmworkers.

Double the State Average

A new study by UC Berkeley School of Public Health reveals the extent to which farmworkers have been excessively burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers from UC Berkeley and the Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas interviewed 1,091 of California’s 800,000 farmworkers. Among the people they spoke to:

  • 13% had tested positive for COVID-19
  • 1 in 5 had previously been infected with the disease
  • Over 25% had a loved one become infected
  • 7% had lost a loved one to COVID-19

The positivity rate for the entire state of California was 5.6% at the time of the study, meaning the rate among farmworkers was nearly double the state average. This discrepancy goes to show how much more severe the effects of the pandemic are for communities of color, specifically Latinos and migrant farmworkers from Mexico.

These numbers are specifically upsetting when we consider that farmworkers are the individuals who ensure we have food on our tables. The state of California has deemed farmworkers essential but failed to support them in any meaningful way.

Pleading for Help

In a 5-minute video on Facebook Watch, a migrant farm worker pleads for protection from the State Assembly Labor Committee. She discusses her and her family’s experience with COVID-19, detailing how she and her husband attempted to “work through” initial symptoms of the virus and struggled financially while taking the time they needed to recover. The woman’s family also faces challenges finding and affording childcare for their children, accessing masks, hand sanitizer, and other protections at work; and even putting food on the table. In closing, the woman reminds the State that immigrants and agricultural workers are not animals.

We are not animals to be worked and exploited,” she attests in her powerful closing statement. Notably, all the woman asked for was access to personal protective equipment in the workplace and paid sick leave from her employers. UC Berkeley’s study goes one step further.

Vaccines for All Farmworkers

UC Berkeley released its eye-opening study at an important time. State lawmakers are currently trying to determine who, after health care workers, should be prioritized for the first wave of the COVID-19 vaccine. At Reed & Garcia Law, PC, we hope lawmakers recognize the plight of farmworkers and put them next in line for the vaccine. Farmworkers are fighting for their lives, and the state has a duty to help.

In the meantime, we offer assistance with workers’ compensation for farmworkers in and around Los Angeles and Bakersfield. California offers workers’ compensation for COVID-19 and death benefits for families who lose a loved one to the virus.

We are available 24/7 to help you with your claim and offer services in English and en español. Most importantly, we will not charge any legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf – ¡ganamos o usted no se paga nada!

Call (310) 242-8933 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Llámenos a (310) 242-8933 o envíenos un mensaje para un consulta gratis.