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North Carolina Farmworker advocates push for more COVID-19 workplace protections

They’re calling on Governor Roy Cooper and other state leaders to enforce safer guidelines

RALEIGH, N.C. — Members of the North Carolina Farmworker Advocacy Network gathered in the North Carolina state capitol this week to honor and remember those in the farm, poultry and meat processing industries who have lost their lives to the coronavirus this year.

Since the start of the pandemic, it’s reported more than 71,000 workers nationwide have gotten sick from Covid-19.  5,000 of those cases have been reported right here in North Carolina. Farmworker advocates blame a lack of protection for this increased coronavirus exposure.

“The vast majority of workers in these industries are workers of color that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” Hunter Ogletree with WCN Workers Center said.

RELATED: State leaders urge precautionary COVID-19 tests ahead of Thanksgiving

A rule-making petition has been submitted to the state to enforce better and safer Covid-19 practices.

“Yes it could feed into their profits, but to what extent do you put profits over the lives of your workers,”Olgetree said.

Governor Roy Cooper, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor all have 30 days, which ends next week, to respond to the petition.

RELATED: NC health officials give COVID-19 guidance on Thanksgiving gatherings