July 30, 2020
For Immediate Release
Yakima, WA – Gubernatorial candidate Dr. Raul Garcia called on Governor Jay Inslee to talk to farmers and farm workers before unilaterally imposing new COVID-19 work restrictions on agriculture. Many of Inslee’s new edicts directly contradict existing state safety regulations and are often unworkable. Inslee’s rules could endanger the health of farmworkers and deliver yet another gut-punch to Washington’s struggling farmers and all who depend on the farm economy.
One example is Inslee’s new rule that all workers must wear face coverings, even in orchards, unless working alone.
This will make a hard job much harder for thousands of people now working long hours in the orchards harvesting Washington’s cherries, apples, and other fruits. Pickers usually work in teams and likely would not be considered “working alone” (which Inslee has not yet bothered to define). Currently in central and eastern Washington, temperatures in the fields and orchards can reach well over 100 degrees. Harvesting while wearing face coverings outdoors in this sweltering heat puts people at high risk of heatstroke, breathing problems and heat exhaustion.
People working outside in the orchards are in a relatively low-risk environment for spreading COVID-19. Those working in the fields can and will follow common sense to bring that risk even lower. This seems to make much more sense than saddling these individuals with masks while doing heavy labor in intense heat.
Dr. Raul Garcia said, “I’m all for wearing masks when and where it makes sense. It does not make sense when you are up in a tree near Wenatchee picking apples. I know Jay Inslee once lived in Central Washington. Perhaps he has forgotten how hot it is this time of year. I’d invite Governor Inslee to leave his air-conditioned mansion in Olympia and join me in visiting those working in the orchards and see for himself what a burden his edict has put on those trying to hold up Washington’s agricultural economy.”
Washington needs a Governor who doesn’t just issue one-size-fits-all decrees, but who will actually consult with those who are going to be directly impacted by new policies. Those impacted will often have better solutions that truly work.
Governor Inslee’s mandatory mask-at-work decrees might make sense in the shadows of an air conditioned office in the Capitol, but they wilt in the bright sunshine and intense heat of Washington’s orchards.
Dr. Raul Garcia says new Inslee decrees go too far
July 30, 2020