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Report: During 8 Months In 2020, Deaths Among Farm Workers Rose 40 Percent

Joel Martinez

Since the start of the pandemic,43,000 Californians have officially died due to COVID-19. But a new research paper by a team of epidemiologists at the University of California, San Franciscosuggests that the true death toll due to the virus is likely much higher, after studying deaths in California over an 8-month period from March to October.

What’s more, the research reveals that food and agricultural workers suffered more excess deaths than any other occupation, and death rates were also elevated among Hispanic and Black Californians.


In this interview, FM89’s Kerry Klein spoke with Yea-Hung Chen, an epidemiologist at UCSF and the primary author of the study, about his team’s examination of excess deaths, why some occupations appear more at risk than others, and how the research can contribute to conversations about workplace protections.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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