Washington Plans To Distribute Hundreds Of Thousands Of Masks To Farmworkers As Smoke Persists
Wildfires across the West continue to inundate the Northwest with hazardous smoke. For those who work outside, that means long hours of exposure and hazardous working conditions.
Farmworkers continue to pick apples in the height of the Washington harvest – even as the sustained smoke makes it hazardous to be outside, especially while doing strenuous work or exercise.
Even so, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday the state has no plans to stop or restrict agricultural work as has been done due to the pandemic.
“I don’t believe we have seriously considered such actions,” Inslee said Tuesday during a news conference in response to a question about protections for agricultural workers.
But as he was answering, a member of his staff gave him additional information.
“It’s just been pointed out … My staff says we have had some efforts to see if we can get some respirators out to folks. I don’t know the status of that,” he said.
The governor’s staff followed up after the briefing, saying more than 200,000 masks have been distributed to agricultural worksites.
The masks in question are KN95, a Chinese standard of masks similar to U.S.-made N95 masks.
Sticking to his longtime lines about climate changing being a major factor in fire, Inslee first said the state is focused on bringing relief to farmworkers in the long run.
“We’re trying to stop climate change so that climate change won’t make these fires so intense. We’re breathing climate change right now and so are farmworkers,” he said.
Farmworker advocates from Yakima and Wenatchee have also been actively distributing KN95 masks to agricultural workers in Central Washington.
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Women from Washington and across the country join the Bandana Project during Farmworker’s Awareness Week and keep raising consciousness on Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The art-activism initiative celebrates its 15th year of calling attention to the sexual violence against farmworkers. Continue Reading For 15 Years, Bandanas Raises Awareness About Sexual Violence Against Farmworkers
Over the past year, wildfire smoke has made the air quality in the Yakima Valley, Eastern Washington and parts of Oregon some of the worst in the country, and even in the world. When the air quality is bad, experts recommend people stay indoors, but that isn’t an option for outdoor laborers, like farmworkers. Continue Reading Washington Farmworkers May Get More Protection From Hot And Smoky Conditions