Last week, Michigan issued an emergency order mandating COVID-19 testing for workers in the agricultural and food processing industries. Despite multiple outbreaks linked to food processing plants, this is the first such requirement.

The order applies to migrant housing camp operators as well as employers of migrant or seasonal workers and meat, poultry, and egg processing facilities and greenhouses with more than 20 employees on-site at a time.

“The men and women who work in our fields and food processing plants are at particular risk for COVID-19, and they need and deserve protection. Today’s order will help to reduce the spread of COVID in communities across Michigan and reduce the pandemic’s disparate impact on Latinos,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said in a press release.

Requirements for employers

  • One-time baseline testing of all workers
  • Testing of all new workers prior to any in-person work
  • Testing of any worker with symptoms or exposure

Requirements for migrant housing camp operators

  • One-time baseline testing of all residents ages 18 and over
  • Testing of all new residents with 48 hours of arrival, with separate housing for newly arriving residents for 14 days and a second test 10 to 14 days after arrival
  • Testing of any resident with symptoms or exposure

A plan was due today (August 10), with the completion of baseline testing and implementation of ongoing testing to be done no later than August 24. A guidance document is available here.

For updated information about COVID-19 outbreaks in the food industry, visit these resources:

Recommended reading: Contact Tracing, Social Distancing Monitoring, and Other Technologies for Keeping Workers Safe