Essential, but Unprotected; COVID-19 ravages essential workers in Washington agriculture

Editor’s note: This story was republished from RANGE.

By Daisy Zavala /RANGE

While Eduardo Muñoz Lara was working in an apple orchard in Othello on an H-2A farmworker visa, his wife, Laura Sandoval, was more than 2,400 miles away in their hometown of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico.

Separated by that distance and wanting to see her husband’s face, Laura video chatted Eduardo early the afternoon of October 11, while he was in isolation due to COVID-19 protocols. He hadn’t taken a COVID test because he was asymptomatic and because, according to Laura, workers were told tests would cost them $200.

When Eduardo, 38, answered the call, Laura immediately realized something was wrong. Her husband was having a stroke.

With Eduardo alone in his room, Laura says she felt helpless. “I was on the other side of the phone, and there wasn’t much I could do except scream for somebody to help him.”

She says it took hours before anyone found Eduardo and called an ambulance.

Read the full story on RANGE.