Roy-area farms, taken in 2015. Photo: Chas Hundley
SALEM - A significant portion of COVID-19 workplace outbreaks are impacting workers at agricultural operations and businesses across the state date from the Oregon Health Authority shows.
And when an outbreak occurs and people are sickened by or potentially exposed to COVID-19, they’re sent home and can lose work while in quarantine, a devastating financial burden for farmworkers, who are generally low-income workers without health insurance and little financial clout, according to an August 1 press release from the governor’s office.
To address the issue, the Oregon Worker Quarantine Fund has been established to provide up to two weeks of financial relief to agricultural workers age 18 and over who are recovering from COVID-19 or are in self-quarantine, regardless of their immigration status.
Those eligible can receive up to $430 per each week that they are in quarantine.
According to an info page on the program, the funds are drawn from a pool of $10 million set aside for the program, approved by the Oregon Legislature in June.
“This pandemic has exacerbated disparities in our systems that already existed—especially for low-income communities, rural communities, immigrants, and communities of color,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Oregonians working in agriculture and food processing are providing a vital service, ensuring families continue to have food on their tables and grocery store shelves during this pandemic. And yet, the nature of this work puts agricultural and food processing workers at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19."
“Many in our state’s agricultural workforce are immigrants who have been left out of federal relief programs, creating additional financial stress for families,” said Reyna Lopez, Executive Director at PCUN, Oregon's Farmworker Union.
For more information and to apply, visit workerrelief.org/i-have-covid-19 or call 1-888-274-7292.