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.
Washington on Friday became the second state in the Pacific Northwest in as many days to announce emergency rules that provide farmworkers and others who work outdoors more protection from hot weather in the wake of an extreme heat wave that is believed to have killed hundreds of people. Continue Reading Washington And Oregon Strengthen Protections For Ag Workers Following Deadly Heat Wave
As forecasters warned of a record-breaking heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada last weekend, officials set up cooling centers, distributed water to the homeless and took other steps. Still, hundreds of people are believed to have died from Friday to Tuesday. Continue Reading Despite Cooling Centers, Hundreds Of People Suspected Dead In Northwest Heat Wave
Some top agriculture groups are upset with Washington Gov. Inslee because farm workers were not covered in last week’s announcement that fully vaccinated employees do not have to wear a mask or socially distance at work. Continue Reading Some Washington Agriculture Groups Upset With Governor Over Farmworker Rules