While state of emergency is lifted, some say food and farm protections are still needed
EASTERN SHORE, Md.- Governor Larry Hogan’s state of emergency has lifted and some groups say it’s at a time when all workers don’t have protections.
Groups advocating for food and farm workers said after more than a year of pressure simple precautions still have not been put in place.
People we spoke with said the issue of these workers not getting protections has been happening for years, but the pandemic has really shed a light on the disparities.
We’re told by one advocate that earlier this year when legislatures passed the Maryland essential workers protection act it required employers to provide commonsense COVID-19 protections for essential workers.
But we’re told with the lifting of the state of emergency- the bills most critical protections wont go into effect.
This means regulations that require paid sick leave and some restrictions.
Adding that without a set plan for protections for these workers Maryland should not reopen.
Also, said while the whole state may be in a good place with vaccinations-some food and farm workers on the Eastern Shore are not in the same boat.
“The eastern shore offers a very different picture that includes some counties that have very low vaccination rates where a lot of our workers are living,” Amy Liebman, with the Migrant Clinicians Network, said.
“COVID- 19 has done it sheds a light on disparities in healthcare and what needs to happen to make it more equitable in this state,” Dr.Gwen DuBois,Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, said.
We’re told by advocates that they are hoping future legislature will prioritize passing permanent protections for workers.
Adding that when these food and farm workers don’t have protections, it impacts the whole community.
It’s also important to note that because the state of emergency is ending, it does not mean that the pandemic is over.
Meaning, workers could still be exposed in their living conditions, on transportation, and work situations.