It was the middle of the winter, and there I was, on my patio, getting the Covid-19 tests ready to help migrant workers to get tested so they could go back to work and feed their families. Farmworkers, food packaging workers, and even a local pastor needed my help that day.
Covid cases have been growing rapidly in Maryland. Stacker, a local news outlet, compiled a list of the counties with the highest cumulative COVID-19 death rates in Maryland using data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It was not surprising that the counties where CATA's members live, and work were part of this list. I didn't need to see those numbers to realize cases were growing faster than last year. I spent a big part of my day helping immigrant workers get back to work after getting sick from Covid-19.
Getting back to work after being sick with Covid-19 might seem a very straightforward process for most of us. However, farmworkers and food packing workers must undergo a very different challenging experience. Not only do they struggle to get a covid test, as tests are scarce and pricey, but in most cases, they are obligated to report their condition to local health authorities to get a certificate to get the time off they need to recuperate. Obtaining this certificate is not always easy for migrant workers as English is their second language, and most of them don't know the steps they need to take to get one.
Even if offering covid-19 tests to our members on my patio was not in my plans for this year, the need was so imminent that I felt obligated to step up and do something about it. Local organizations that support migrant workers in Maryland, who were also aware of the need, like the Lower Shore Vulnerable Populations Task Force and the Centro de Los Derechos del Migrante, donated the COVID-19 test. I just needed to find an open space to distribute the kits. My house Patio was the best option I could find and allowed me to distribute the kits even on the weekends.
If you work with the migrant and immigrant population in Maryland, or you are a migrant/immigrant worker in Maryland, and you are not sure what's the procedure to get back to work when somebody test positive for COVID-19, please call our office in Maryland: (410) 572-5959, we can help!
Over the last year, our work on the Delmarva Peninsula has been made possible due to a partnership with Centro de Derechos Migrantes in the Protein Processing Worker Project. The PPWP is a collaboration of CDM with organizations throughout the Delmarva Peninsula - UFCW Local 27, Rebirth Inc, CATA, the Legal Aid Justice Center, Love and Hope Rescue Mission, and Migrant Clinician's Network. We look forward to continuing working with this collaboration to control the spread of infectious diseases among protein processing workers throughout the Delmarva Peninsula!