Why few farmworkers isolate in California’s free COVID-19 hotel rooms

December 18, 2020

A joint investigation by the Documenting COVID-19 project at the Brown Institute, CalMatters and The Salinas Californian reveals just around 80 of the state’s over 800,000 farmworkers have quarantined or isolated in hotel rooms for agricultural workers since the program was announced in July.

In interviews with nearly 20 farmworkers, advocates and administrators, as well as a review of internal county emails obtained through record requests, reporters found a potent cocktail of fear, testing barriers and miscalculations have hobbled the statewide hotel isolation and quarantine program even as the virus spreads faster in California’s vast farmworker population than in the general public.

In that time, over 16,500 California farmworkers have fallen ill from COVID-19, according to estimates by Purdue University. 

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