Extreme Heat and COVID-19: A Dual Burden for Farmworkers

David López-Carr, Jennifer Vanos, Armando Sánchez-Vargas, Río Vargas, Federico Castillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Currently, there is an extensive literature examining heat impacts on labor productivity and health, as well as a recent surge in research around COVID-19. However, to our knowledge, no research to date examines the dual burden of COVID-19 and extreme heat on labor productivity and laborers' health and livelihoods. To close this research gap and shed light on a critical health and livelihood issue affecting a vulnerable population, we urge researchers to study the two topics in tandem. Because farmworkers have a high incidence of COVID-19 infections and a low rate of inoculation, they will be among those who suffer most from this dual burden. In this article, we discuss impacts from extreme heat and COVID-19 on farm laborers. We provide examples from the literature and a conceptual framework showing the bi-directional nature of heat impacts on COVID-19 and vice versa. We conclude with questions for further research and with specific policy recommendations to alleviate this dual burden. If implemented, these policies would enhance the wellbeing of farmworkers through improved unemployment benefits, updated regulations, and consistent implementation of outdoor labor regulations. Additionally, policies for farmworker-related health needs and cultural aspects of policy implementation and farmworker outreach are needed. These and related policies could potentially reduce the dual burden of COVID-19 and extreme heat impacts while future research explores their relative cost-effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number884152
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Volume10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 4 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • EPI-epidemiology
  • dual burden of disease
  • extreme heat
  • farm labor
  • farm work
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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