Judge Denies Restraining Order Over Rule For Farm Worker Testing

A judge has sided with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on a rule requiring all farm workers to be tested for COVID-19. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has released the following statement:

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon applauded a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan regarding a lawsuit challenging the department’s order requiring testing to protect farm and food processing employees from COVID-19. The court denied a temporary restraining order regarding the department’s Emergency Order.

“MDHHS appreciates the judge’s ruling,” said Gordon. “The department’s goal is to save lives during a pandemic that has killed more than 6,300 people in Michigan. At a time when farms, food processing plants and migrant worker camps face 21 outbreaks, the best way to save lives is to support and test these hard-working employees.”

The order, which was announced on Aug. 3, remains in effect. It requires migrant housing camp operators to provide COVID-19 testing as follows:

  • One-time baseline testing of all residents ages 18 and over.
  • Testing of all new residents with 48 hours of arrival, with separate housing for newly arriving residents for 14 days and a second test 10 – 14 days after arrival.
  • Testing of any resident with symptoms or exposure.

Employers of migrant or seasonal workers, meat, poultry and egg processing facilities and greenhouses with over 20 employees on-site at a time to provide COVID-19 testing as follows:

  • One-time baseline testing of all workers.
  • Testing of all new workers prior to any in-person work.
  • Testing of any worker with symptoms or exposure.

The deadline for businesses to comply is Aug. 24. Those seeking assistance with compliance can email MDHHS-Migrant-Affairs@michigan.gov. Additional information, including a Frequently Asked Question document, is available on the COVID-19 website.

Failure to comply with this order may result in the issuance of a civil monetary penalty under the authority of MCL 333.2262.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.