The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is taking further action to prevent and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks among the agricultural workforce, delivering critical personal protection equipment for use by agricultural workers across the state.
“Agriculture is vital to our economy and food supply and it is critical that we protect farmworkers and their families from this virus,” said Governor Roy Cooper.
Farmworkers are deemed an essential workforce and it is imperative that people who cultivate and harvest North Carolina’s wide variety of crops are protected. To support prevention efforts that are proven to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, NCDHHS is implementing its plan this week to deliver over 900,000 masks and other infection control supplies to North Carolina Cooperative Extension county centers across the state for distribution to farms and agricultural operations. In addition to masks, the deliveries included hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings for workers to take home.
Thirty-one counties have been selected to receive the first delivery, including: Alamance, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Harnett, Henderson, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, Martin, Mecklenburg, Nash, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wake, Wayne, Wilson.
“Many of our farmworkers live in group housing, putting them at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. Providing masks is one way we are helping to protect workers,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen.
NCDHHS is partnering with N.C. Cooperative Extension, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), the N.C. Department of Labor (NCDOL) and the N.C. Agromedicine Institute to expedite a delivery plan and raise awareness about this resource among the farming community.
“Some of these supplies have been difficult for farmers to source as demand has exceeded supply. I am grateful that farmworkers and farmers have been prioritized for these much-needed materials,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The health of our farmers and farmworkers is very important because we all rely on them every day.”