California Gov. Newsom Wants to Expand Protections for Essential Workers, Especially Latinos
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday said he wanted additional protective measures for essential workers, especially Latinos, who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Newsom, Latinos make up most of California's cooks, laborers, food prep workers, cashiers and other essential workers. They also make up 55 percent of the state's confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases even though they're just 39 percent of the population, according to a CBS San Francisco report.
Even with a stay-at-home order in place, the state still depends on essential workers. In an ABC 7 article, Newsom said there is a clear spread of the virus among essential workers, which he said was "disproportionately represented by the Latinx community."
What will the measures do?
The new measures will involve preventive actions, employer education and safeguards to ensure long-lasting safety of sick or exposed workers. These may need lawmakers to pass a form of legislation to expand on the current rules.
There are plans to expand "Project Roomkey" that started as a housing project for the homeless in empty hotels. A San Francisco Chronicle report said temporary housing will be given to infected workers, so they can quarantine in it.
Newsom wanted to make sure that those who fell sick or was exposed to the virus has a place to self-isolate -- something that he recognized is easy for certain segments of society, but not to all.
To add to the housing efforts, the current executive orders, which set COVID-19 paid sick leave and workers' compensation for at-risk workers, will also be extended, he said.
The state also plans to put labor laws in force and build a stronger reporting system for when outbreaks take place. This is so they can move more quickly to help those who are affected. It will also help their efforts to contact trace, Newsom said.
Newsom admitted that his office fell short in telling businesses on how to reopen safely. He said they're trying to make up for it using the information campaign.
The state released a new handbook for employers. It includes guidelines on safe and clean operations, as well as guidelines on what to do during an outbreak.
Newsom said he wanted to build his plan on executive orders and the CARES Act. Along with employer education, they also aim to educate employees.
Newsom said this is the state's way of extending some "longer-lasting worker protections."
"We need to give them the protection so that you can be protected and customers can be protected," he stressed.
Newsom said the state has to keep its essential workers safe for their efforts in fighting COVID-19 to become a success.
In the past few weeks, the governor did not fall short of telling the public about new plans on how to curb the coronavirus. He has also been giving updates as new counties were put on the state's watch list that now stands with 36 of 58 counties in California.
As of Friday, California has reported over 435 thousand cases, the most there is in the United States. The state also saw 8,186 deaths and a 7.5 percent seven-day positivity rate that is slightly higher when compared to 7.4 percent on Monday.
Over the past 24 hours, it also reported 159 more deaths, slightly higher than their past record of 157 deaths.
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