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Local groups demand stronger COVID precautions for agricultural workers

Nicole Jennings


Apr 30, 2020

For agricultural workers, it’s impossible to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. And as dozens of workers at an East Wenatchee orchard tested positive, many of these essential employees fear that current working conditions will not keep them safe from the virus.

Two unions filed a lawsuit in Skagit County Superior Court on April 16 to get the state to set specific rules for employers. The Department of Labor and Industries released a set of mandates and suggestions for agriculture workers and warehouses on the same day, and will expand this list to include housing and transportation safety precautions Friday.

The current list requires employers to maintain social distancing when possible, and take alternative measures (such as the use of masks) when distancing is not possible; provide hand washing facilities; frequently disinfect surfaces; ensure sick employees stay home; and educate employees in their first language about coronavirus.

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