The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued an emergency order that all food processing workers and all agricultural workers in the state be tested for Covid-19.

“The men and women who work in our fields and food processing plants are at particular risk for COVID-19, and they need and deserve protection. Today’s order will help to reduce the spread of COVID in communities across Michigan and reduce the pandemic’s disparate impact on Latinos.” - MDHHS Director Robert Gordon, who issued the order.

The state says what prompted the order was a report that in recent weeks, there have been 11 "identified outbreaks in farms and food processing plants in Michigan". Also an indication that while "Latinos are 5 percent of Michigan’s population, they represent 11 percent of COVID cases in which the individual’s ethnicity is identified."

The state says employers of migrant or seasonal workers, meat, poultry and egg processing facilities and greenhouses with over 20 employees on-site at a time, have to do the following Covid-19 testing:

  • One-time baseline testing of all workers.
  • Testing of all new workers prior to any in-person work.
  • Testing of any worker with symptoms or exposure.

A coalition of labor and processors asked federal government leaders for additional resources to facilitate more tests and ultimately, increased safety for both ends of the food chain.

The state order says employers have to have plans in place by August 10th, and to begin baseline testing by August 24th.

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