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CalOSHA ramps up ag inspections as virus spreads

Todd Fitchette wfp-todd-fitchette-terra-nova-ranch-697.jpg
Agricultural employees in California are required to wear face masks on the job. That and other mandates are the subject of increased scrutiny and inspections by CalOSHA investigators and the California Attorney General as the state continues to report an upswing in positive COVID test results.
In Tulare County, 99 new infections were reported Wednesday, including two deaths and 53 recoveries.

A reported uptick in COVID-19 cases in California, including some at agricultural processors, has drawn the attention of Cal OSHA inspectors. Additionally, the California attorney general is now contacting agricultural operations, asking detailed questions about their preparedness protocols.

This comes as cases in the Central Valley and Imperial County are reporting additional cases. Imperial County, which borders Mexico, had 279 new reported cases on Wednesday, including two deaths. There were also 230 recoveries reported on Wednesday.

Tulare County, in central California, also saw a significant increase in cases as 99 new infections were reported Wednesday, including two deaths and 53 recoveries. Both counties are said to be failing Gov. Newsom's performance metrics.

In Wasco, northwest of Bakersfield, about 50 farmworkers went on strike Thursday at Priimex Farms, which grows pistachios, to demand free face coverings, gloves and more transparency from the company about positive cases, The Associated Press reported.

CalOSHA is reportedly cracking down on agricultural employers as state law mandates all employers to establish and implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program to protect employees from worksite hazards, including infectious disease.

The California Department of Industrial Relations has several key pieces of information online, including safety and health guidance and a daily checklist for agricultural employers. The State of California also has a website with information on COVID-19.

The number of reported cases comes as the state continues to promote increased testing efforts. Statistically, less than 3 percent of all confirmed cases in California have led to death as about one-half of one percent of the state population has reportedly been infected by the virus, according to state numbers.

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