Health, labor and agriculture officials on Thursday urged farmers to register for COVID-19 testing amid concerns workers at agriculture businesses could spread the virus amongst themselves.
The state is offering free coronavirus testing in Clinton, Genesee, Orleans, Ulster and Wayne counties -- areas that have the highest number of out-of-state workers during the harvest season.
“The health and safety of our essential workers in agriculture and keeping our food supply chain moving have been the Department’s priority since the COVID-19 pandemic began," said Agriculture and Markets Comissioner Richard Ball.
"New York State is committed to continuing to help our farms take the necessary precautions to prevent and respond to COVID-19. Providing education and bringing testing directly to our communities will ensure we are reaching the seasonal workers on our farms for this upcoming harvest.”
The registration page can be found here.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the testing plan last week. Parts of upstate New York have seen clusters of COVID cases in rural areas, including at agriculture-based businesses.
The testing is voluntary, but farmers have some requiremens if they participate in the program, including reading and complying with the state's testing guidelines, having a plan for housing to help isolate workers who have been tested and supplementing their current workforce if necessary
“As we have seen an increase in clusters associated with farms that employ seasonal workers who have traveled from out of state, this testing initiative will help us isolate any individuals who test positive and prevent the virus from spreading," Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said. "Thanks to every New Yorker’s participation, we have been able to flatten the curve of infection, but it will take a continued effort, including statewide testing and contact tracing, to maintain our success.”