Northampton concerned about itinerant farmworkers spreading COVID-19

June 24, 2020
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By Ted Shockley

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The chairman of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors is concerned with the possible spread of the novel coronavirus from farmworkers moving from the south to the Eastern Shore for vegetable harvest seasons.

Chairman Oliver Bennett expressed concern that virus spikes in Florida and other southern states could impact Northampton County, which he said already has 28 deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.

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“We’ve got to look out for other folks,” Bennett said.

Said Supervisor John Coker, “I just can’t even imagine what the vulnerability is.”

Bennett said he has spoken with Eastern Shore Health District officials about his concern. County Administrator Charles Kolakowski said the local health department has reached out to farm operators with guidelines on how to restrict the spread.

Supervisors were especially concerned for the farmworkers’ transportation. One of the constants of an Eastern Shore summer are the repurposed school buses used to haul itinerant harvesters from place to place.

Mapp said she has seen the buses all ready this year — with crowds of the farmworkers entering stores, usually all at once, imperiling social distancing efforts.

Supervisors hoped the public would continue preventative measures to combat the coronavirus and not let down their guard.

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