Four US Catholic bishops have called on government officials to consider the role and plight of US migrant farmworkers during the coronavirus pandemic and made recommendations that include free testing and care should the workers test positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude and prayers for the many essential workers throughout the country, helping us receive our medicines, groceries, and other fundamental needs during this difficult time,” the bishops said. “We would like to highlight the reality of migrant farmworker communities and honour their heroic role amidst the many challenges they face during this crisis.”
The statement was offered on behalf of Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia and chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travellers (PCMRT); Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Jose, California, and PCMRT’s episcopal liaison for migrant farmworker ministry; and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the Committee on Migration.
In addition to testing and access to health care, the bishops recommended that housing and transportation for farmworkers comply with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, that workers receive information on proper health and hygiene accessible in multiple languages and infographics for workers who can’t read, that employers ensure access to proper hygiene and safety protections at work sites, including hand-washing facilities or stations, and masks or other personal protective equipment.
They also recommended employers “have an emergency health plan in place to ensure care and protocols when a worker contracts the Covid-19 virus.”
Picture: Migrant farmworkers in King City, California, harvest romaine lettuce on 17th April 2017. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters).