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“As Covid-19 Surges, California Farmworkers Are Paying a High Price”

“A survey of workers in 21 counties found the coronavirus is devastating them directly and indirectly, with farm hubs having the highest infection rates in the state. “

“Every day, California farmworkers worry that the pandemic plowing through agricultural hubs will catch them and kill them. They also worry that not working will kill them.

The collapse of food service demands when most businesses and institutions shut down has cut farm jobs statewide by 20 percent, or 100,000. Many farmworkers who are still working have had their hours or days reduced, sometimes without warning. Lockdowns have also cost workers second jobs they needed to make ends meet. They are juggling bills and going hungry.

These are some of the findings in a new survey of 900 farmworkers in 21 farm counties, released on Tuesday. The survey was coordinated by the California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS), with a wide group of researchers, farmworker organizations and policy advocates. The Covid-19 Farmworker Study (COFS) reinforces the dire warnings that farmworker advocacy organizations made when the coronavirus lockdowns began: The least protected essential workers in the country, toiling under environmental conditions like excessive heat, pollution and dust, are being devastated by the coronavirus, directly and indirectly.”

Evelyn Nieves reports for InsideClimate News July 29, 2020.