July 23, 2024

Farmworkers contract virus in Southern California

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) — Dozens of farmworkers staying at a Southern California housing facility for migrant agricultural laborers tested positive for the coronavirus, the Ventura County Star reported.

County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas said that, as of July 3, 188 of the 216 workers tested positive at Villa Las Brisas in Oxnard.

The facility has dorm-style accommodations for temporary migrant farmworkers in the H-2A visa program. It is owned by berry company Reiter Affiliated Cos., but the workers were employed by three separate farm labor contractors that leased space for their H-2A workers.

Vargas told the Star he believes the workers staying there were working as a unit and did not work alongside other farmworkers in Ventura County.

“Even between the three growers there might not have been much mixing, but certainly from my understanding they didn't work with others outside of those in Villa Las Brisas,” Vargas said.

In a statement, Reiter said it “proactively engaged” with the health agency in April to review hygiene protocols.

The site “looked good to us,” but the tour wasn't in an oversight capacity, Vargas said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.