February 2, 2021

‘Major, major problem.’ California isn’t fully tracking workplace COVID infections, deaths [Sacramento Bee]

A year after the first COVID-19 case hit California, the state agency in charge of policing warehouses, offices, factories and other workplaces is woefully understaffed and significantly undercounting the number of employees who have fallen seriously ill or died as a result of the coronavirus. … Farm labor leaders said they’ve been disappointed in Cal/OSHA’s response to the pandemic. … [T]he agency was hit with two lawsuits — one by the California Farm Bureau Federation and other farm groups, the other by a collection of business groups such as the National Retail Federation. Both lawsuits say the new regulations create enormous burdens on small businesses.



Judge doubles down on order ensuring Foster Farms poultry workers protected from COVID [Fresno Bee]

A Merced County Superior Court judge has reinforced an order requiring Foster Farms in Livingston to protect its poultry workers from becoming infected with COVID-19. Judge Brian L. McCabe on Friday granted a request by the United Farm Workers for a preliminary injunction against Foster Farms. … Attorney Monique Alonso, of Messing Adam & Jasmine, said the injunction gives the judge much-needed oversight over whether Foster Farms is complying with COVID-19 protections for workers in meatpacking plants.



250 vaccinations designated for farmworkers in Mecca [KESQ TV, Palm Springs]

Several Coachella Valley agencies and Riverside County partnered to bring a mobile vaccination site to farmworkers of the eastern Coachella Valley. A total of 250 vaccinations were designated for Monday’s event at Tudor Ranch in Mecca. … People were in and out at Monday’s clinic, with the exception of having to wait 15-30 minutes after receiving the vaccine in case of potential allergic reactions. “They all got vaccinated during their work shift. We coordinated the travel time and the staggering,” said Hadley Date Gardens President, Albert Keck.



Wildfires in California already nearly triple the statewide average [Redding Record Searchlight]

Even though it’s only February, California has begun the year with already more than double the number of wildfires than in the first month of 2020 — a record-setting year. And the number of acres burned on non-federal land last month was more than 20 times the state’s 5-year average for January. While the rain and snow of the past week may make last year’s fire season seem like a distant memory, the numbers are a reminder that wildfires have become more common year-round in California.



Wood-pulp prices surge as speculators pounce in China [Wall Street Journal]

Wood-pulp prices are soaring thanks to speculators in China, with help from paper takeout containers, a weaker dollar and people using restrooms at home instead of the office. … Prices are hottest for softwood pulp, the type that comes from coniferous trees and is used to make products such as premium toilet tissue, paper towels, junk mail and coffee cups. … Though pulp was a poor performer for most of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic shook up the market for paper products and set the stage for a rebound in demand.



Battle against food waste is working, but 35% of food is still lost and impacting the climate, report finds [San Francisco Chronicle]

A nonprofit organization’s new report on food waste has found that Americans wasted 2% less food per capita in the past three years. … The report by ReFED, the only national nonprofit working to end food waste, found that 35% of food, or 80.6 million tons, went uneaten or unsold in the United States in 2019 — an estimated loss of $408 billion. … Some of the biggest sources of waste, according to the report, came from spoiled food in home refrigerators, uneaten food on restaurant plates and produce left to rot on farm fields for various reasons.



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