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Free Testing For Covid-19 Offered To Western Mass. Farm Workers

a farm field and a tractor

Free COVID-19 testing is being offered for farm workers in western Massachusetts.

Tests will be done, by appointment, on Thursday June 25th at the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield.

The testing was arranged by Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture.

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with CISA Executive Director Phil Korman.

To schedule a test people can call CISA at 413-551-2640 or the Pioneer Valley Workers Center at 413-351-2300 by Tuesday, June 23.

The purpose of this day is really to acknowledge that everybody who works on a farm-whether you're the owner of the farm, whether you're a supervisor, whether you're someone who's in the field, you are a part of an essential industry or business that the governor has recognized and working in that essential business. It's important because if you're not able to stay safe and healthy for you and your family, you're also not going to be able to provide food for all of us and for all of our families. And so that's why it was so important that CISA worked with our legislators. And with this state to get another day of free testing at The Big E in West Springfield. In order for someone to be able to get tested for free, all you need to do is either call CISA at 413-551-2640 or the Pioneer Valley Worker Center at 413-351-2300. We need to hear from you by Tuesday, June 23. And we'll be giving appointment times based on first come first serve.
And do you have to have symptoms or can you be asymptomatic?
You can- You do not have to have symptoms, you do need to be someone who works on a farm. That's the only criteria. You do not need health insurance. You do need some kind of ID, it doesn't have to be a driver's license. And you need, you will need to come to the address we give you at The Big E, in a vehicle. There's no drop-ins, so you do need an appointment. And there's no biking or motorcycling or walking to the site. There'll be hundreds of people that can be tested. So we think we can meet the needs of people, this coming week who either have symptoms or are concerned. There are other testing sites that provide testing for free and on our website, we provide all that information throughout the three counties.
And you said this is the second time that this has been offered to farm workers.
There were three weeks at The Big E, where we were able, again, with our local legislators, Senator Jo Comerford, and State Representative Natalie Blais, we were able to include farm workers along with first responders. But since then, the governor has closed down the two bigger free testing sites at Gillette Stadium and The Big E because there's testing available at other places. We requested with our legislators, to the administration to get one more free day of testing. And we were granted that on June 25, Thursday from 9-4.
Since we know that many of the agricultural workers in Western Massachusetts are undocumented immigrants. Is there a concern that they might be reluctant to come and get, get tested at a facility that's connected with the government?
We've addressed those concerns as well as we can by collaborating with the Pioneer Valley worker center, who have a network of 400 farm workers. They also are able to be- They are bilingual, able to take hotline calls and Spanish. They have leaders who can speak directly to farmworkers. And we've been, we've been told many times by the state that any form of ID will work and everyone is safe to come and get tested. The results are only given to the person who gets the test, the patient. CISA, Pioneer Valley Worker Center farm owners will not know the results of the test for that individual.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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