Central Valley lawmakers hope Newsom’s $52M in federal relief funds help farmworkers fight COVID-19

California Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday the Central Valley is getting extra funding to aid in its fight against the coronavirus.

Eight counties in the area, including San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, are getting $52 million in federal grant funding, according to the governor.

“I receive five to eight to 10 calls a day from people with symptoms. People, they don’t want to go to the hospital,” explained Luis Magaña, an immigrants’ rights advocate in San Joaquin County. “I have people who are dying.”

Magaña told FOX40 many migrant workers are getting sick but have nowhere to turn.

“Went to the county hospital, they receive a bill for $5,000,” said Magaña. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, it’s too expensive.’”

“Agricultural workers, farmworkers are three times more likely than non-agricultural workers to contract COVID-19,” said Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Hollister.

Rivas said he introduced a COVID-19 farmworker relief package that would expand access to testing and personal protective equipment and provide safe agricultural housing.

“Throughout this pandemic, farmworkers, they have never stopped working,” explained Rivas. “And as low-wage earners, farmworkers, they can’t afford to lose a day’s work.”

Rivas said he believes worksite health and safety protocols need to improve and more bilingual safety education is needed.

On Friday, Newsom announced relief will be coming for farmworkers.

Rivas said he hopes some of the $52 million in federal grant funding the governor is sending to the Central Valley goes toward farmworkers.

“The state needs to do more,” said Rivas. “We must take action to ensure that our farmworkers are protected, especially if we’re going to avoid any kind of disruption to our food supply.”

Newsom said Monday that in some of the eight counties where the money is being sent, officials have seen COVID-19 positivity rates as high as 17%, which is more than double the 7.5% state average.

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