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Farmworkers at High Risk for Coronavirus

Many farmworkers from Mexico are starting to arrive in Wisconsin for planting season. The state had an estimated 4,500 domestic migrant workers and 1,500 guest workers in 2018. Labor activists say safety protections for farmworkers are lacking.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said there’s no evidence that consumers can contract COVID-19 by eating food. In Wisconsin, a Department of Workforce Development spokesman said it has alerted employers of migrant workers that they must comply with federal and state safety guidelines.

The alert says employers should follow social distancing guidelines when providing transportation for migrant workers or else face possible penalties. But one Mexican guest worker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that rides to farms are often done in large groups of seven or more.

Other obstacles migrants face are: social distancing in the fields, adequate housing, no health insurance and a lack of community support to cover basic needs.

Family Health La Clinica, a health center that serves around 1,000 farmworkers a year in the state, said it is preparing to help all patients that can be served in an outpatient clinic. It has set up a COVID resource line and telehealth services.

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