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Washington Urged to Do More to Protect Essential Farmworkers

  • Advocates say state is slow to act on coronavirus proposal
  • State told farms healthy and sick could be housed in same room
Workers harvest Brussels sprouts at a farm in Mount Vernon, Washington, on Jan. 7. 

Workers harvest Brussels sprouts at a farm in Mount Vernon, Washington, on Jan. 7. 

Photographer: David Ryder/Bloomberg

Farmworker advocates in the state of Washington are raising alarm over the pace of progress in shielding workers from the coronavirus, and say recent government guidance is so lenient it could actually make things worse.

On March 19, a committee of both agricultural industry leaders and labor advocates sent Washington Governor Jay Inslee a list of recommendations to help protect staff, including state support in providing protective equipment, testing and temporary housing with enough distance between beds.