Florida Governor Blames COVID Spike On “Hispanic” Farmworkers

Megan Everts

Florida governor Ron DeSantis said that the increase in COVID cases in Florida is due to Hispanic farmers.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that “clusters of ‘overwhelmingly Hispanic’ day laborers and agriculture workers are the source for Florida’s recent surge in coronavirus cases,” reported CBS Miami.

  • Florida reported 8,886 new COVID cases between June 4 and June 11.
  • “DeSantis pointed to cases in migrant camps, a watermelon farm and Immokalee, a major hub for tomato production” to explain this increase.
  • Specifically, he noted that the “cramped living and working conditions” are one of the reasons they have been testing positive for COVID: “Some of these guys go to work in a school bus, and they are all just packed there like sardines, going across Palm Beach County or some of these other places, and there’s all these opportunities to have transmission.”

However, “members of the tightly knit agricultural enclave say it isn’t the farmworkers’ fault that they are getting sick.”

  • They argue that “the state has been slow to provide the community with the resources farmworker advocates have requested to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus.”
  • For example, Antonio Tovar, the executive director of the Farmworker Association of Florida, said that in late April DeSantis ignored pleas for help from a coalition of 50 groups.
  • CBS Miami reported that “Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also highlighted the farmworkers’ plight in a 10-page report submitted to a task force set up by the governor to make recommendations about reopening the state following widespread shutdowns in response to the novel coronavirus.”
  • Fried “asked the task force to provide better health care services to farmworkers to prevent the spread of COVID-19, noting that less than half of farm workers have health insurance” and “called on the state to provide more face coverings for workers and less crowded housing options.”
  • Additionally, many farm workers in Florida “have struggled to learn about COVID-19 because of a language barrier,” as there is less information about it provided in Spanish.

DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferre, “said the governor long ago targeted the agriculture industry as potentially high risk for the spread of COVID-19,” but Tovar argues that it is “too little too late.”

Read more here.


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