July 1, 2022

Why few farmworkers isolate in California’s free COVID-19 hotel rooms

Table of Contents ‘Everything about it is a barrier’‘It comes down to trust’ In summary…

Why few farmworkers isolate in California’s free COVID-19 hotel rooms

In summary

Despite a heavy toll of COVID-19 among California’s farmworkers, who often live in crowded homes, Newsom’s Housing for the Harvest program has made just 81 hotel reservations for isolation or quarantine as of Dec. 16. Given pervasive fear among farmworkers of using governmental programs, are Newsom’s hotel rooms the wrong answer to a persisting problem?

In the first days of August, Fresno farmworker Brenda Yamileth, lined up for a COVID-19 test alongside her mother and brother. Feverish and headachy, she held her 10-month-old daughter. Soon, all four tested positive.

She quarantined with her baby in one bedroom of her Mendota house while her husband and 2½-year-old son slept in the other. Daughter Michelle cried nonstop, and Yamileth worried for the baby’s health. At the same time, she feared infecting her husband and son, steps away. Her husband developed a cough as she quarantined, but never got a test.

Quarantining at home wasn’t safe, Yamileth thought: “Creo que no era sana.”