COVID-19 testing now required for migrant and some seasonal workers in Michigan
Michigan has become the first state to require COVID-19 testing for food and ag processing employees.
The Emergency Order issued by the Department of Health and Human Services requires all migrant housing camps licensed by the state to conduct a baseline test for all residents over 18 years old, all new residents be tested within 48 hours of arrival, and tests for anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms or who are potentially exposed.
All ag employers with more than 20 employees on-site at a time of migrant and H-2A workers and seasonal ag workers as well as operators of greenhouses, and meat, poultry, and egg processing plants need to provide testing for any workers with symptoms or suspected exposure as well as all new workers.
All employers and housing facilities also need to complete a testing plan by August 10th and make it available to officials upon request. Baseline testing is required to start by August 24th.
Failure to comply with requirements can result in fines.
Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon says workers in fields and food processing plants are at a particular risk for COVID-19 and they need and deserve protection, saying this order will help reduce the spread and its disparate impact on Latinos.
The agency tells Brownfield this order would also apply to employers with a mix of at least 20 permanent and seasonal employees. Because of the diversity of Michigan agriculture and employer situations, they have developed a Frequently Asked Questions site for guidance on specific scenarios.
The state had identified 11 outbreaks in recent weeks in farms and food processing plants with Latinos representing a significant portion of positive cases.
Michigan Farm Bureau is reviewing the order, saying there are numerous concerns and questions including the limited amount of time to meet requirements.