She Has Cancer and Is High-Risk for COVID Complications. But Like Many Essential Farmworkers, She Can’t Stay Home

BY: Patrice Taddonio

Sinthia Hernandez has both cancer and diabetes, conditions that put her at a higher risk for complications if she were to contract COVID-19.

But for her, staying home from work until the coronavirus pandemic passes is not an option.

Through her job as a broccoli picker in California’s Salinas Valley, an area that supplies much of the country’s leafy greens, Hernandez provides for a household that includes her mother, her children and her two siblings — one of whom is blind and deaf, and another who is quadriplegic.

“In these times,” Hernandez says, “it’s necessity that makes us work despite the fear we have.”

While millions of people in America have been sheltering in place, Hernandez is one of many members of the country’s largely immigrant agricultural workforce who have been maintaining the country’s food supply throughout the pandemic — and who speak out in a new FRONTLINE investigation about their experiences of having to choose between their health and their jobs.

“They are not giving us the essentials to protect ourselves,” Hernandez says in the above excerpt from COVID’s Hidden Toll, a FRONTLINE documentary premiering July 21 on PBS (check local listings) and online that is supported by Chasing the Dream.

Read the full story and learn more on FRONTLINE’s website.