As New York State’s capacity to test for COVID-19 is expanding, “essential employees” and Phase 1 businesses in the state’s re-opening are being prioritized for diagnostic testing, according to the NYS Department of Health’s revised guidance. This means anyone who works in agriculture should be eligible for free COVID-19 testing. (See “Can I Be Tested?” at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing).
“Essential workers,” which include anyone working in production agriculture, can request an appointment by completing an assessment at https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov/ or by calling the New York State’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065. The hotline does provide translators for non-English speakers.
When completing the assessment, you will be asked a short series of questions regarding symptoms and exposures. If you or your employees have not had any symptoms or exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19, this does not mean you are ineligible for free testing.
Eligibility relates to the question about your work. Among those eligible for free testing are “essential employees who have direct contact with the public while working.” That includes anyone who works on a production-based farm.
New York State requires the following information for making an appointment at one of its testing sites: first and last name, gender, date of birth, and permanent address. A photo i.d. and permanent address information will be requested also at the testing site.
Any agricultural worker who needs assistance with requesting free diagnostic testing may contact NYCAMH’s Farm Partners’ social worker, Kathy Smith, at 800-343-7527 or Kathleen.Smith@bassett.org. NYCAMH also has staff available to provide Spanish-speaking translation assistance. NYCAMH is a private, non-profit and non-regulatory organization committed to the health and safety of New York’s farm community.
Share Your Farm’s “Smart Solution” and Enter to Win $200
By Maryellen Driscoll, NYCAMH Communications Coordinator
Most farmers know how to fix just about anything—tractors, wiring, plumbing, buildings, equipment, etc. It’s a daily requirement of the job. So when it comes to adapting to New York State’s Interim Guidance for Prevention and Response of COVID-19 at Farms, released May 27, we believe some of the best and most practical fixes to an impractical situation come from the farmers themselves.
The “Smart Solutions” contest will be giving a $200 credit card gift card to the farm owner or employee who shared the best tip on how they’ve adapted, changed or innovated to make their work, workers or workplace safer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The time to share ideas is now.
The contest is sponsored by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) and the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety (NEC).
To enter, go to: https://www.nycamh.org/news.php?id=853
Here are some examples of farm-related “smart solutions” to managing the challenges of COVID-19 at work:
- Color-code shovels, harvesting knives, and cultivation hand tools with duct tape, to avoid sharing. One person uses the tools marked with red tape, another only the ones marked with blue tape, etc. (Free Bird Farm, Palatine Bridge, NY)
- Sew buttons onto the sides of your cap to hook face cover straps over so they aren’t pulling on your ears. (Ian Lake, delivery driver, NH)
NYCAMH has also released a series of practical tips for farm operations related to COVID-19 safety and prevention in the posters section of their COVID-19 web page (scroll to bottom of page).
The terms of the “Smart Solutions” contest are as follows:
- Submissions will be accepted through July 15, 2020. One winner will be selected for the $200 gift card.
- To be eligible, you must be 18 years of age or older and own or work for a commercial farm located in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland or West Virginia.
- You may submit more than one idea.
- By submitting an idea, you give permission to the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety (NEC) and the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) to share your creative idea and photo via websites, newsletters, social media, or other communications channels. We will not share your contact information without your expressed consent.
Find news updates, videos, and a variety of COVID-19 resources for agricultural employers and employees at www.nycamh.org/covid-19. If you would like more information about the contest, NYCAMH’s free virtual employee trainings, PPE sales or other services, please contact NYCAMH by calling 800-343-7527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.