Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new protections for essential workers

ByAlix Martichoux and Melanie Woodrow KGO logo
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Newsom announces new protections for workers
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced additional protections for essential workers in California amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A majority of essential workers in California are Latino, Black and Asian, the governor said.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced additional protections for essential workers in California amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Newsom says that the majority of farm workers, construction workers, cooks, laborers, food prep workers, truck drivers and cashiers in California are mostly members of the Latinx community.

"That's the community that increasingly and disproportionately is being impacted not only by the spread of the virus but the mortality related to the spread of the virus," said Newsom.

Many Asian and Black Californians are also disproportionately represented in those jobs.

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The state is introducing new and extending existing worker safeguards in the hopes of reducing coronavirus transmission among essential workers. First off, is making sure anyone who is sick or exposed has a place to isolate or self-quarantine.

"That may be easy in certain segments of society," Newsom said of people who have a second home or large properties where they can distance from their families. That's not the case for many working families.

"People that are feeling sick, people that may be sick, we don't want them going to work and infecting other people," said Newsom.

"I'll never forget a family in San Francisco I visited at a single room occupancy hotel in the Tenderloin. I went in to the room and there were only beds on the floor. There was no space that wasn't filled with a bed. There were literally eight people living in less than 100 square feet."

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The governor said the state is expanding Project Roomkey, which started as a way to temporarily house homeless people in empty hotels, to make sure agricultural and farm workers also have access to a place to self-isolate.

Newsom's executive orders establishing COVID-19 paid sick leave and workers' compensation for at-risk workers are also being extended, he said.

California is offering more detailed guidelines for employers, which Newsom says the state will enforce, to make sure working conditions are safe amid the pandemic.

"For us to be able to be successful in terms of stopping the spread of COVID-19, which we will do, it depends on our ability to keep our essential workers safe," Newsom said.

Over the past several weeks, the governor has been announcing new restrictions on the state's reopening in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. California saw a record-breaking number of new cases earlier this week.

Newsom has also been giving updates as new counties are added to the state's watch list, which now stands at 36 of California's 58 counties.

In order to get off the list counties must be within their designated threshold for all metrics for three days.

WATCH LIST: 36 California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

An additional 9,718 COVID-19 cases were reported in California over the past 24 hours. Nearly 138,000 people were tested for the virus just yesterday, the governor added.

"I don't know many states that are testing as many people, but as my mom used to say: 'Don't compare yourself to others.'"

The Governor also reminded Californians of the three critical steps to take to make a difference here; wear a mask, physically distance and wash your hands.

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