FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Help is on the way for local Ag workers who need to isolate themselves during the pandemic thanks to a new program that could provide hotel rooms if a worker tests positive for COVID-19.

The program, organized by the Central Valley Community Foundation, will be rolled out over the next two weeks. The non-profit says it is a vital step to help keep essential workers safe as farmworkers have a greater risk of being exposed to the virus.

“Here in Fresno, about one in four jobs are directly related to agriculture and so you would expect this industry to be impacted by COVID with the rising numbers we’ve seen and as an industry we’re taken this extraordinarily seriously and trying to do all we can to protect our employees,” said CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau Ryan Jacobsen.

Advocates for the migrant community say worker protection is vital. The Central Valley Community Foundation’s Hannah Johnson agrees.

“We realize that we needed to provide a safe place to quarantine, some wrap-around services, access to testing’s been an issue,” said Johnson.

Johnson says the foundation is working with other organizations on the program.

“The support for the hotels is coming from a FEMA reimbursement through the state. The state has contracts with about 20 hotels in the Central Valley currently and is working to add more just so we can be prepared for as many farm works who need to use this service.”

Once the program is underway in Fresno County, the Central Valley Community Foundation hopes to provide it in other Central Valley counties as well.