SAN FRANCISCO - California Latino Legislative Caucus on Friday urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to prioritize state farmworkers in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
In an open letter, signed by caucus chair and State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo and vice chair, Assemblymember Robert Rivas, the caucus urged farmworkers to be included in the first phase of the vaccine’s distribution. They highlight the importance of protecting the nation’s food supply, California’s $50 billion agricultural industry and the essential workers responsible for getting food on our tables.
California's Latino population is among those demographics disproportionately affected by the disease. Multigenerational and overcrowded housing conditions, as well as lack of health-care access and personal protective equipment, are listed as some of the contributing factors. The caucus notes that 97% of the state’s farm workers are Latino.
“Protecting our farmworkers protects all of our residents by preventing labor shortages, keeping the food supply strong and improving public health by minimizing the number of agriculture-related COVID-19 cases,” the caucus wrote.
145,000 farmworkers nationwide have tested COVID positive with more than 15,000 of those cases stemming from California.
The letter asks for a farmworker specific component to the vaccine’s distribution process that includes outreach and recognizes that these essential workers be placed in line after healthcare workers who are prioritized the most.
The letter also calls for undocumented immigrants, who are often afraid to seek government assistance, to be included in this process.
On Thursday, the State of California gave its first glimpse of details for its vaccine distribution plan that includes three priority tiers and the six regions the vaccine will be allocated for.