H-2A Employer Health Equity Toolkit
CDC created this toolkit to provide COVID-19 information to employers, agencies, and organizations who work with H-2A workers. These messages, resources, and tools are designed to help people traveling to the United States on an H-2A temporary agricultural work visa, as well as those who employ, recruit, work with, or supervise them, to make decisions, protect their health, and communicate with their communities.
H-2A workers are at increased risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 during travel to and from the U.S., at work sites, in shared housing, and during shared transportation.
Many factors may put this population at increased risk of getting or spreading COVID-19:
- Being an essential worker: The risk of infection may be greater for essential workers. These workers are often required to be at the job site. Workers who appear to have symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival at work, or who develop these symptoms during the day, should immediately be separated from others at the workplace, and sent to their permanent or temporary housing arrangements for isolation.
- Distance between workers: Agricultural workers often have close contact with one another both in the fields and indoors (e.g., greenhouses, dairy farms). Workers may also be near one another at other times, such as when clocking in or out, during breaks, when sharing transportation, or in shared housing.
- Transportation: Agricultural workers are frequently transported in buses, placing them in close contact with other workers in an enclosed space. CDC recommends that employers limit the number of workers in the same vehicle to improve social distancing and open windows or use vehicle ventilation to provide fresh air. Employers should consider transporting workers as groups (cohorts) of those in the same crews and/or who share living quarters. Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus).
- Housing: Workers on an H-2A visa live in employer-provided shared housing, which is often crowded, making prevention strategies such as social distancing, quarantining, and isolating more difficult to follow. CDC recommends that employers limit the number of workers sharing the same housing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC also recommends that employers provide separate temporary housing for workers with COVID-19 to minimize the spread.
- Sick leave: Workers without paid sick leave or who do not know how or when they can use paid sick leave may be more likely to keep working when they are sick or when they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19—which means they can spread COVID-19 to other workers, including others working in the same facilities. CDC recommends that sick leave policies are flexible, non-punitive, and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.
- Employees who are sick can visit a community health center that has low-cost, confidential health services and information available in languages other than English, including agricultural workers. Use this online tool to find the nearest community health center, https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/external icon, or call 911 if it’s an emergency. You may also contact your consulateexternal icon (if you are from Mexico, contact Consulados de Méxicoexternal icon, Teléfonos de emergencia de la Red Consular de Méxicoexternal icon) for guidance.
- Healthcare access and utilization: Employers are not required to provide health insurance to H-2A workers. Newly arrived H-2A workers are likely to be unfamiliar with how to access healthcare and health insurance in the United States. Healthcare access can also be limited for these workers by many other factors, such as cost, lack of health insurance, transportation, inability to take time off work, communication and language barriers, cultural differences between patients and providers, and historical and current discrimination in healthcare systems.
- Language and literacy barriers: H-2A workers are likely to have limited English proficiency and low literacy levels. CDC recommends that employers have access to educational material on COVID-19 prevention in the appropriate languages.
- Mobility of the workforce: H-2A workers may travel to and from communities in the United States or from abroad, and may work on more than one farm during their stay in the United States, which can potentially introduce exposure to and spread of the virus between communities and workers.
For resources related specifically to COVID-19 vaccination, visit CDC’s
- Agriculture Workers and Employers
- COVID-19 Vaccination website
- COVID-19 Vaccination Toolkits, including one for essential workers
- Vaccine Print Resources
For COVID-19 vaccination resources to share with your employees, visit CDC’s
Guidance and Planning Documents
- Agriculture Workers and Employers
- Agricultural Employer Checklist for Creating a COVID-19 Assessment and Control Planpdf icon
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- COVID-19 Guidance for Shared or Congregate Housing
- Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers
- Meat and Poultry Processing Facility Assessment Toolkit
- Testing Strategy for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in High-Density Critical Infrastructure Workplaces after a COVID-19 Case Is Identified
- U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19pdf iconexternal icon
What to do if Workers Have COVID-19 Symptoms and/or Test Positive
The links below include a variety of resources applicable to employers, partner agencies, and partner organizations when communicating with H-2A workers. The links also include resources to better understand H-2A workers and their needs, and information to keep farmworkers and the communities in which they live and work safe.
- Protecting People with a Temporary Agricultural Work Visa (H-2A Visa)
- Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups
- Rural Communities
- Resources for Limited-English-Proficient Populations
- CDC Tools for Cross-Cultural Communication and Language Access
- Ad Council Coronavirus Response Toolkitexternal icon
- Resources for People Experiencing Challenging Emotions: Englishexternal icon I Spanishexternal icon
- Directory of Local Health Departmentsexternal icon
- Occupational Health Database by State
- CDC COVID Data Tracker
- Stress and Coping
The following text message samples were developed to support COVID-19 recommendations to help protect H-2A workers before and during their travel to the United States. The SMS messages can be adapted to fit worker, employer, and partner agency needs.
Reminder: Before you travel, consider getting tested for COVID-19. Visit your doctor and ask for a copy of your medical records, including your vaccination card, & prescriptions in English.
Before your trip, consider getting tested for COVID-19. Also, make sure to ask your doctor for a 12-week supply of medications you currently take. Remember to bring them in original packaging.
Remember to pack:
- 12-week supply of medications
- Medical records
- Copy of prescription(s) in English
- Copy of visa & passport
Take steps to avoid higher-risk activities, such as large gatherings, for at least 10 days (preferably 14) before your trip. This could help reduce the chance that your travel will be interrupted or delayed by COVID-19.
Stay Safe During Travel
Safe travels! Remember to stay at least 2 meters/6 feet (2 arm lengths) from others, wear a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth for the entire trip, & wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.
If you stop for food or rest during your travels, stay at least 2 meters/6 feet (2 arm lengths) from others, wear a mask, & wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your face and commonly touched surfaces or sharing items while traveling.
While traveling with others, remember to wear a mask at all times and keep your distance (at least 2 meters/6 feet, or 2 arm lengths). Masks are required on public transportation in the United States.
After Arriving at your U.S. Destination
Before you begin working, ask your employer about getting tested for COVID-19. If you become sick while in the U.S., you can visit a community health center that has low cost health services and information in other languages for anyone in the U.S., including agricultural workers. Find a health center near you: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/external icon
Stay safe. Social distance. Wash hands. Wear a mask.
How are you feeling? Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, or loss of taste or smell. Talk to your employer if you’re not feeling well. If your employer is not allowing you to get tested for COVID-19 or obtain health care services, contact OSHA: call 1-800-321-6742 or submit a form online at https://www.osha.gov/workers/file-complaintexternal icon
*Hashtags or taglines: Learn more at http://go.usa.gov/xHUnZexternal icon, Stop COVID-19, Stop Coronavirus, #COVID19, #SlowTheSpread
Social Media Messages
Please remember to use #COVID19 when tweeting out any COVID-19-related content. Additional Spanish language social media messaging can be found here.
- Take these important steps to protect yourself and others as you travel to and through the U.S.: Wash your hands with soap and water often, avoid close contact with others, wear a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth when you are around others, and cover coughs and sneezes.
- Take these steps to protect yourself & others from #COVID19 during your trip: Wash your hands with soap and water often, avoid close contact with others, wear a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth when you are around others, and cover coughs and sneezes.
- Masks work best when everyone wears them. Wear a mask that completely covers the nose and mouth when around other people, especially when it is difficult to maintain social distancing (staying at least 2 meters/6 feet/2 arm lengths apart). Learn more about how to wear a mask: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.
Additional Print Resources:
- Protect Yourself and Others in Public Settingspdf icon
- Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 when Carpoolingpdf icon
- Wash your hands!pdf icon
- How to Safely Wear and Take Off a Maskpdf icon
- Mask Do’s and Don’tsimage icon
- Symptoms of COVID-19pdf icon
- Meat and Poultry Processing Facilities: Key Strategies to Prevent COVID-19 Infection among Employeespdf icon
Other Spanish language print resources can be found here.
Additional Spanish language video resources can be found here.