United States farmworkers ensure the continuity of the nation’s food supply and have been deemed essential workers in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Latinos, including those in farmworker communities, have accounted for a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases. We present the findings from surveys and biological measures of active and prior SARS-CoV-2 infection to reveal the extent to which farmworkers have been excessively burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. We provide critical assessments of the risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection among California’s most vulnerable and essential population, finding evidence of current infection in about 13% of 1091 farmworkers tested for active SARS-CoV-2 infection over a five-month period (July – November 2020).
On July 16, 2020, we launched a collaborative effort between Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas (CSVS) and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health to understand the extent and causes of SARS-CoV-2 infection among California farmworkers in the Salinas Valley. The goal of the study was to identify risk factors of infection among California farmworkers to inform evidence-based preventative strategies in this vulnerable population of essential workers.