California releases new COVID-19 protections for essential workers, including farm workers

On Thursday, the number of positive cases in the state rose above 425,000.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Governor Gavin Newsom announced new measures to help lower COVID-19 transmission levels within essential workforces during the coronavirus pandemic during a briefing on Friday.

Newsom acknowledged that some of the transmission surges in California have stemmed from essential businesses and disproportionately affect minority groups who make up a majority of those workforces, including the Latino, Asian and Black communities.

The governor said the state is extending paid sick leave benefits for essential workers who have tested positive or who have been exposed to COVID-19. Workers' compensation will also be provided to at-risk employees.

Newsom also announced that temporary housing, including hotel rooms and other facilities, will now be available for about 626,000 agriculture and farm workers to isolate themselves if they contract the virus.

Workers in Central California will also be eligible for this program, but further details were not immediately provided.

Newsom said the state is increasing its efforts to educate employers who own essential businesses, by issuing an employer playbook for reopening safely.

California is also working to encourage more employers to report outbreaks of the virus among their employees to their county health departments.

"If people are sick, we don't want them to go to work," Newsom said.

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The governor said California's hospitalizations were up 9% over the last 14 days and called it a "modest decline" in growth rate compared to several weeks ago. However, Newsom said restrictions are still needed for the time being.

The state's ICU admissions saw a similar trend and were up 11% over a 14 day period. Newsom said the ICU rates and the number of ventilators available in the San Joaquin Valley are still of concern to state health officials.

California reported 9,718 new coronavirus cases and a seven-day average of 9,881 cases.

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