Protect Migrant Workers

What Virginia Can and Should Do Now

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  • An emergency order should be adopted to ensure coverage for farmworkers, irrespective of documentation status, for free medical treatment for COVID-19;
  • A designated hotline capable of receiving information or messages twenty four hours a day should be established within the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and/or the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) to allow H-2 workers to report potential symptoms and request medical assistance;
  • Under no circumstances should employers or their agents be allowed to terminate or send home workers who are sick with or have been exposed to COVID-19;
  • No migrant workers should be evicted or in any way removed from their housing without prior review and approval of the VDH and, when applicable, written notification provided to the Mexican Consulate;
  • All farmworker housing must have designated quarantine living facilities and COVID-19 plans approved by VDH prior to issuing any housing license;
  • In addition to its current checklist, VDH should add additional COVID-19 plans prior to the issuance of any license;
  • Prospective workers must be advised that they will not be required to pay for any cleaning and sanitizing products and the agricultural employer must have an approved health plan for all workers that includes regular sanitizing of the housing and transportation vehicles and other communal areas. All farmworkers must also be informed that they will be taken to a medical facility if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, and that they will be quarantined if they develop symptoms or test positive;
  • Unemployment insurance should be provided for H-2 workers who are going to be quarantined; and
  • Social distancing at work and in communities must be ensured.

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