Agriculture workers hope a mask alternative will be more efficient in the field

News

FRESNO, California (KSEE) — Central Valley farmers are hoping an alternative to a mask will help them stay safe while working in the fields.

Nisei Farmers League is working with the Fresno County Health Department to create a bandana for farm workers.

League President, Manuel Cunha said workers say they prefer it over medical or cloth masks.

“In the field these, are very difficult to wear because of the heat, the sweat, and the dust,” said Cunha as he pointed to his disposable mask.

Since March, Cunha and the league have been trying to get as many masks as possible for Ag workers.

He said once they shifted focus to a bandana, it was the perfect opportunity to print a message on the front.

“This bandana is going to have this information in English and Spanish,” said Cunha. “It will say ‘feeling sick? Inform your employer. Stay home. Isolate'”

The bandana also has four symbols that show hand washing, a person wearing a face covering, and social distancing.

20,000 bandanas will be given to field workers. Meat packers will continue to use disposable medical masks and pesticide sprayers are required to wear N95 masks.

Several sectors in the county have a high demand for masks. Community Regional Medical Center told county officials last week that the hospital only had enough masks for 9 days.

A call was made and the county was able to deliver 150,000 N95 masks. Enough for at least another month.

The county does have hundreds of thousands in stockpiled masks but wants to be cautious about the rate they are handed out.

“It is kind of a balance,” said Fresno County Health Department Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Dale Dotson. “It is tough. You want to make sure you have items on hand. I don’t think we are anywhere from being done. I think we will still go through a whole bunch of PPE.”

The farmers league will hand out 20,000 bandanas with a goal of eventually giving out 200,000.

They will also give medical masks to the farmers’ families and post five educational COVID-19 facts in English and Spanish at the bottom of each paycheck.

If you need PPE, you can request assistance from the county here.

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