COVID-19 Farmworker Study now underway in Washington state

TUMWATER, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health is taking part in a study on the effects of COVID-19 on the agricultural industry.

In April, the DOH COVID-19 Community Engagement Taskforce began participating in the research design for the COVID-19 Farmworker Study (COFS). The Washington COFS data collection team conducted the first surveys in Washington on Tuesday.

COFS is a tri-state research project coordinated by the California Institute for Rural Studies. The California research team recently revealed a preliminary data summary of the over 900 surveys of California farmworkers completed on July 24, 2020.

According to preliminary data, 46% of survey respondents reported a decrease in work hours and subsequent income losses during the pandemic. 54% reported costs, lack of insurance and/or lack of sick leave as barriers to accessing adequate healthcare if they were sick. 95% of workers surveyed said they wore face masks to work, but those surveyed reported only 54% of worksites provided them with face coverings.

The preliminary study concluded that going forward more support should be given to agricultural workers, including direct payments, unemployment insurance, food assistance, housing support for COVID-19 isolation, counseling and other social services.

The Washington study is expected to be finished sometime in September. If you are a farmworker or can refer farmworkers to participate in the study, please contact CETF team member Tomas Madrigal at Tomas.Madrigal@doh.wa.gov.

To read the full, preliminary California report, click here.