Napa Valley

Napa Valley Organization Strives to Keep Agriculture Workers Safe During Pandemic

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Health experts say agriculture workers are one of the most vulnerable communities during the pandemic as they work, and live, in close quarters.

Napa Valley vineyards and health care are working to keep workers safe during the coronavirus pandemic by providing testing at their homes and job sites.

Testing for the workers is being done from a mobile testing van at a remote location in St. Helena. The van testing was funded by the St. Helena Hospital Foundation, Napa Valley Vintners and other non profits.

The team has already conducted over 1,500 on-site tests across the Valley in the past month.

Vineyard owners say the ability to go where workers live and work will likely save lives, and possibly the wine industry itself.

Robin Baggett, Chair of the Napa Valley Vintner says the Hispanic community in Napa County is disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

Luis, who works for Bale Mill Creek Vineyard, says mobile testing is a game changer.

Him and his crew were tested early Monday morning and were back to work only minutes later. Workers from a nearby vineyard also got tested at the same location.

"Harvest is hard enough," said Eric Hildreth from Melka Estates and Winery, "so adding this extra variable, its nice to see that the community is coming together to look out for each other."

The team has a goal of conducting 200 tests per day and hope to speed-up testing results as well.

As of now, test results take three days to be revealed.

"We're trying to expand as fast as we can, because the need is just tremendous," said Newhart.

Organizers hope by this time next year, the mobile testing unit becomes a mobile vaccination unit and continue to work to keep the community of workers safe and healthy.

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