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State, Counties Look To Boost Farmworker COVID-19 Testing

State and local agencies are launching an effort to increase COVID-19 testing of farmworkers during the fall harvest season, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The department is working with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Florida Division of Emergency Management and county governments.

Testing will be provided at no cost to farmers, farmworkers and family members.

Initial participating counties are Miami-Dade County and Hillsborough County, according to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Also, the department said testing dates for St. Lucie and Hendry counties will be coming.

“Florida’s farmworkers are essential workers critical to feeding 150 million Americans, but they’re also more susceptible to respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and often lack health coverage,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a prepared statement Thursday. “As the harvest season begins, having access to coronavirus testing will help keep farmworkers, their families and their communities safe, with a potential next COVID-19 wave coming this fall.”

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