Inslee Announces Farmworker COVID Protections
Referencing the "more than 100K agricultural workers" in the state of Washington, Governor Inslee along with LNI Director Joel Sacks, introduced a series of precautions and "guidance" on Thursday May 28.
These measures are in direct response to a series of strikes across the Yakima Valley and other areas, where workers have been protesting what they say are a lack of safety precautions concerning COVID-19. Inslee and Sacks, along with United Farm Workers officials, laid out programs designed to inform workers about safety procedures.
New regulations will require farmers and employers to educate and inform the farm workers about COVID, what their options are if exposed, how to practice social distancing etc. The regulations will require employers to provide free masks to farm workers. Inslee said the state has already provided some 135,000 cloth masks to ag workers so far.
No word on calls from some farm labor reps who are asking for a $2 per hour 'hazard pay' due to COVID-19. That topic was not addressed. This was reported on this week by the Yakima Herald.
***Inslee also outlined what will be happening with the state's long term care testing program. Long term care facilities are the nursing and assisted care centers.
New measures are being added, including requirements of "broad testing" for COVID in these type of facilities.
Inslee said under this order, "all residents and staff in nursing homes and assisted centers (all such facilities) will be tested" sometime within the next four weeks total. Facilities who have already completed such testing will be exempted.
It has already been noted, whether by some legislators and especially comments on social media on the Governor's Facebook page, that his response to the farm worker concerns has been far more responsive and swift than calls from small business for relief and faster re-opening.
Some are already comparing Inslee's response to the farm workers to his reaction to the Monroe Correctional Facility disturbances. Of course, no comparison intended between Monroe and farm workers. However, the principle is the same.
Less than 2 days after the Monroe inmates rioted, Inslee set forth the plan to release hundreds of inmates across the state to prevent spread of COVID. At least five or more have already re-offended, including a shocking attack on an elderly woman in Everett. She did survive.
It appears that if it's a topic, subject or aspect of the state's economy, infrastructure or society that is a priority to the Governor, his reaction is almost knee-jerk.
Small business, re-openings, and the state of the economy was not addressed in the Thursday session.
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