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Migrant Labor Camp Guidance

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends that agricultural employers and migrant labor camp operators implement the following guidance to reduce exposure to and the spread of COVID-19 among migrant and seasonal farmworkers. To lessen the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on these essential workers, their employers, and the public, agricultural employers and migrant labor camp operators should immediately implement preventative measures and create a COVID-19 response plan.

This guidance and the accompanying checklist provide recommendations on how to implement the following measures and prevent the spread of COVID-19 at agricultural housing, transportation, and worksites:

  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Increased and regular sanitation/disinfection using product from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list N,
  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Provide alternate housing, food, and supplies for symptomatic workers that are quarantined.
  • Coordination with IDPH, local health departments,  and health care facilities.

Additional guidance may be needed as new information about the virus, its transmission, and impacts becomes available.

Arranging for a Worker to Seek Medical Attention

Call 911 for a medical emergency. Notify the operator you are seeking care for someone who may have COVID-19. If possible, ask the worker to put on a mask or cloth face covering before medical help arrives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises any person who develops the following emergency warning signs for COVID-19 to seek medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all-inclusive. Consult a medical provider for other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

What to Do If a Worker Becomes Ill

  • Allow workers to seek COVID-19 testing and treatment and provide transportation to medical care as needed.
  • Ensure workers with COVID-19 symptoms self-quarantine for no less than 10 days from symptom onset and at least 72 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and respiratory symptoms have improved.
    • Provide alternate housing to quarantine symptomatic workers.
    • Provide sufficient food and water for the quarantine period.
    • Ensure access to medical care.
  • Screen other workers who may have been exposed or come into close contact with sick workers.
  • Notify your local health department or IDPH at (800) 889-3931 within one day of being informed of a known or suspected case of COVID-19, or any occurrence of COVID-19 symptoms.
  • For migrant labor camps licensed by IDPH, notify IDPH’s Division of Environmental Health at (217) 782-5830 within one day of being informed of a known or suspected case of COVID-19.

Develop and Implement a COVID-19 Prevention and Response Plan

Use this guidance and the accompanying checklist to develop a COVID-19 Prevention and Response Plan to protect essential farmworkers, camp operators, growers, and the public.


Implement the following measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Screen workers upon arrival for underlying conditions, age, and symptoms.
  • Create social distancing-compliant housing facilities, even when this requires additional beds or quarters.
    • Allow for sleeping arrangements with at least 6 feet between workers.
    • Provide separate living facilities for workers who are over 60 years of age or have underlying health conditions.
  • Create social distancing-compliant transportation, even when this requires additional transportation vehicles or staggered transportation.
  • Provide adequate space for workers to follow social distancing in shade during breaks and meals.
  • Encourage social distancing in the field by staggering work tasks and shifts.
  • Increase sanitation and cleaning of housing and transportation facilities.
  • Provide handwashing stations and soap and adequate time for frequent handwashing.
    • Provide sufficient sanitizing and handwashing supplies.
    • Designate an individual to be responsible for ensuring workers comply with health and sanitation requirements.
  • Provide masks or cloth face coverings for workers, especially those who exhibit symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are feeling sick. Do not provide incentives for work attendance or penalize workers for taking time off for COVID-19 testing or illness related to COVID-19. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for raising safety concerns.
  • Designate an individual to receive reports from workers who may have COVID-19 symptoms and coordinate transportation for such workers to obtain medical services.
  • Establish alternate housing for symptomatic workers.  
    • Housing facilities at licensed migrant labor camps must be inspected and approved by IDPH prior to occupancy.
    • Alternate housing should have separate sleeping areas with separate cooking and bathing facilities for quarantined workers.
    • Designate an individual whose sole responsibility is to care for quarantined workers, ensure they have sufficient food and supplies, that the quarantine is enforced, receive health and safety related concerns, and that transportation to medical care is provided.
  • Educate workers about measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Prepare a facility-specific COVID-19 response team in the event of an outbreak

It is best to reach out to health care providers and facilities prior to the beginning of the season and establish a plan for managing cases of COVID-19. This should include identifying:

  • Actions to screen workers and address positive cases of COVID-19
  • Emergency numbers for EMT, clinics, and hospitals
  • Addresses of emergency medical facilities
  • Alternate housing for symptomatic workers
  • Supplies needed for alternate housing
  • A manager to lead the response to COVID-19 efforts
  • A lead worker to act as a liaison and facilitate response
  • A caretaker for those with symptoms
  • Preventative actions for:
    • Transport to and from fields
    • Working in the field
    • Migrant camp/living facilities

Last Updated 7/10/2020

Guidance Document: