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August 25, 2020

Congressman Panetta Leads Call for Assistance in Securing N-95 Masks

Congressmen Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) and Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) headline a bipartisan letter to Vice President Mike Pence, as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, requesting immediate assistance in securing safety equipment, including N-95 masks, for farmers and farmworkers impacted by the wildfire smoke.

“Such essential equipment will help protect those who continue to produce our agricultural products and contribute so much to our nation’s food security,” the letter states.

The letter references the heat wave in California, which has dried the landscape and made it more susceptible to fire. To date in 2020, 7,330 wildfires have burned 1.1 million acres across the state.

In California, emergency regulations stipulate that, in workplace settings with significant wildfire smoke exposure, when the current Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM2.5 particulate is 151 or greater, employers must provide proper respiratory protection equipment to their employees. Many areas along the central coast of California have already surpassed this AQI threshold.

“Unfortunately, agricultural producers are struggling to procure the necessary masks, given limited supplies and backlogs at the national level,” the letter continues.

With the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 wildfire season, the letter requests the Task Force to, “work with relevant state and federal agencies to ensure America’s farmers and farmworkers have priority access to the protective gear they need to do their essential work, including N-95 or equivalent facial masks.”

Click here to read the full letter.

The letter was signed by Representatives Mark Takano (CA-41), Mike Thompson (CA-5), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Josh Harder (CA-10), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-29), John Garamendi (CA-3), Doris Matsui (CA-6), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), TJ Cox (CA-21), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Judy Chu (CA-27), Jim Costa (CA-16), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ami Bera (CA-7), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), and Susan A. Davis (CA-53).