Pender is one of 31 counties chosen to receive the first delivery of personal protection equipment for agricultural workers from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
DHHS is taking the step to prevent and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks among the agricultural workforce by implementing a plan this week to deliver more than 900,000 masks and other infection control supplies to North Carolina Cooperative Extension county centers, the state announced Tuesday.
The extension offices will distribute to farms and agricultural operations the masks as well as hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings for workers to take home.
“Agriculture is vital to our economy and food supply and it is critical that we protect farmworkers and their families from this virus,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a release.
In addition to Pender, other counties to receive the first delivery are Alamance, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Harnett, Henderson, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, Martin, Mecklenburg, Nash, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wake, Wayne and Wilson.
“Many of our farmworkers live in group housing, putting them at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. Providing masks is one way we are helping to protect workers,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen.
NCDHHS is partnering with the state Cooperative Extension, North Caorlina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, North Carolina Department of Labor and North Carolina Agromedicine Institute to inform the farming community about this resource.
“Some of these supplies have been difficult for farmers to source as demand has exceeded supply. I am grateful that farmworkers and farmers have been prioritized for these much-needed materials,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The health of our farmers and farmworkers is very important because we all rely on them every day.”
Online tools available to help protect the agricultural workforce include the following: