COVID-19 Impact on Farmworkers

February 5, 2021

In July 2020, a collaborative effort between Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas (CSVS) and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health was launched to understand the extent and causes of SARS-CoV-2 infection among California farmworkers in the Salinas Valley, also known as the ‘Salad Bowl of the Nation.’ This study was the first long-term study on the prevalence of, and risk factors for, COVID-19 among California farmworkers.

Results showed that 13% of Salinas Valley farmworker participants tested positive for COVID-19 between mid July and November 2020. These results are alarming given that only 5% of the CA population has tested positive from the start of the pandemic to late November. Even more alarming, the study found 58% of participants who were infected and symptomatic continued going to work while sick.
According to Brenda Eskenazi, MA, PhD, “A big problem is that farmworkers were going to work symptomatic because they thought they’d lose their jobs, and they felt they needed to feed their families… A large portion of the farmworkers are food insecure, meaning they are going hungry during this pandemic, and these are the people that put food on our table.”

Read more about the study online here:


Brenda Eskenazi, MA, PhD is the Brian and Jennifer Maxwell Endowed Chair in Public Health and Director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health. She works locally and globally on the effects of environmental exposures on the health of children. She is interested in environmental exposures ranging from chemical exposure, such as pesticides and dioxins, to air pollution to climate change, and studies how these environmental exposures may interact with social adversities to affect the development of children. Her work tends to focus on populations who are of lower income and who may be at higher risk of adverse effects.

For more of her research, see Brenda Eskenazi’s Faculty Profile.