Updated April 6, 2020, 12:30 P.M. PT
What is the coronavirus?
- Are the coronavirus and COVID-19 the same thing?
- Coronaviruses are a group of viruses. COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus designated as “new coronavirus”, CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2. The cause of the virus is not known. (Source)
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms typically appear within 2–14 days of exposure. (Source)
- How does COVID-19 spread?
- The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe COVID-19 is primarily spread from person-to person. People who are in close contact (closer than 6 feet) can spread the virus. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets containing the virus may be inhaled by people nearby. It can also spread by touching surfaces that an infected person has touched. (Source)
- What can someone do to reduce their risk of infection?
- To stop the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding contact with others, and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands. (Source)
- Who is most at risk for catching COVID-19?
- Scientists are learning more about the virus every day. Currently, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify the following groups as being more vulnerable:
- - People over 65 years old
- - People with compromised immune systems
- - People with serious chronic medical conditions, such as lung or heart disease
- - To date, individuals who are pregnant are not shown to be at increased risk
In California (as of 3/24/2020):
- - 50% of the confirmed (positive) COVID-19 cases were between the ages of 18–49
- - 26% of the positive cases were people 50–64 years of age
- - 23% of the positive cases were people 65 years of age or older
- What should I do if I feel sick?
- Contact your health care provider for instructions. Do not go to the clinic, doctor's office, or hospital. Call emergency services (9-1-1) if you are having difficulty breathing.
Agricultural Employers and Growers
These suggestions are intended to assist employers and growers with finding practical solutions to continue their essential work. Agricultural activities and worksites vary and not every suggestion will work for every employer or grower.
- Is agriculture considered essential under the California ‘stay-at-home’ order (Executive Order N-33-20)?
- Yes. Details about the activities considered ‘essential’ in the Food and Agriculture Sector can be found here.
- What can I do at my worksite to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission?
- Consider incorporating these best practices into your daily health and safety routines.
- - Clean all equipment and tools (specifically those areas that will be touched by workers, including handles, seats, etc.) at the beginning and end of each work shift.
- - Be extra vigilant about cleaning restrooms, inside and out.
- - Ensure workers wash their hands when they arrive at the worksite and frequently throughout the day. Provide soap, water, and time for this purpose.
- What information should I give my workers about COVID-19?
- Share general information about COVID-19, including the symptoms, method of transmission, how individuals can reduce their risk. See above for a full list of topics.
- How does "social distancing" apply to the agricultural workplace?
- Social distancing is recommended as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19 since it is spread person-to-person. Consider how you can implement social distancing practices in your workplace.
For example, hold tailgate trainings in small groups so workers can maintain distance and hear supervisors’ information; provide sufficient space and reminders for workers to sit apart from each other during breaks; space workers during their shift to allow for six feet of distance between them.
- My employees report being stopped by police on the way to work. What can I do?
- Consider providing a letter to your employees stating your company policy regarding COVID-19 and their role as essential workers. It is not known by WCAHS whether this will be sufficient documentation for officials. Find an example from Farm Employment Labor Services here.
- Are there other groups providing information for ag employers, farmers, and ranchers?
- Yes! There are many organizations that are developing new resources every day. Please see the box at right for a few that are specifically tailored for ag employers, farmers, and ranchers. Your insurance carrier is also a valuable resource.
- Should I wear a respirator to work?
- No. Unless your job requires the use of a respirator and you have received the necessary fit test, you should not wear a respirator to work.
- Should I wear a mask or bandana over my face at work?
- A face mask or bandana will not prevent the transmission of viruses. They may be worn to reduce an individual’s tendency to touch their face, which can spread germs.
- What can I do at work to reduce my risk?
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water and social distancing (staying six feet away from other people) will help to reduce your risk of exposure. For example: reduce the number of people you travel to/from work with; clean vehicle surfaces (e.g. seat belt, steering wheel, window/lock controls) before entering a vehicle; stand apart from other people during crew meetings or trainings and meal breaks; space yourself from other workers while performing work duties.
- What should I do if I feel sick?
- Stay home. If you have COVID-19 symptoms you should stay home from work and isolate yourself from family and friends. We recognize that this is a challenge for farmworkers who may not have paid sick leave and may fear losing their job.
- Will I be stopped by the police or ICE if I leave my house to go to work?
- Local police are taking different approaches to enforcing state shelter in place/stay at home instructions. It is possible that the police may stop people who appear to not be adhering to the rule. As of March 18, 2020 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated a temporary adjustment to its enforcement approach and is focusing on public safety.
WCAHS has heard from members of the agricultural industry in California that police have stopped farmworkers traveling to work. Some employers are giving employees cards to show officials in these instances to verify they are essential workers traveling to work. Farmworkers can consider asking their employer for such a ‘card’ or ‘letter’ although it is not known by WCAHS whether this will be sufficient documentation for officials. A sample letter in English and Spanish can be found here.