California governor expands benefits for food workers
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that he has signed an executive order to help essential workers in the food supply chain, including workers in the delivery and fast-food industries, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Newsom said there will be “two weeks of supplemental sick leave for workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have been exposed to isolation or quarantine orders by local health officials or state or federal officials.”
“I think about the people that grow our food, that pick our food, the people that pack our food, deliver our food, cook, serve and sell our food,” Newsom said. “That sector by definition is essential to our livelihoods … it has been hard hit by strife and by challenges in terms of health and safety … This is a serious issue and requires a serious response.”
“I hope this will significantly address the anxiety some of farmworkers have and some of the anxiety our fast food workers have and the anxiety around the delivery of our food … and the anxiety those workers have about their own health. We don’t want you going to work if you’re sick. And we want to let you know that if you’re sick it’s OK to acknowledge it … and to know you’re going to get a supplemental paycheck for a minimum of two weeks.”
Newsom’s address was delayed so he could join a conference call involving President Trump, Vice President Pence and governors from across the U.S. They discussed guidelines for what Newsom called “a phased reopening of the American economy.”
Newsom mentioned that he appreciated that federal officials recognize “the differentiation that exists” when it comes to the virus’ impact on different states and local communities, and the “need to act with the kind of specificity at a state by state level that is required.”
More than 26,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the state, including 890 deaths, according to California’s health department. The governor said 69 more Californians have died in the last 24 hours and the number of people in intensive care has had a modest increase in the last day to 1,191 patients.
Residents in the state have been living under a stay-at-home order for nearly a month.
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