COVID-19 Vaccine Questions, Farmworkers Wages, Sustainable Fashion
Discussing COVID-19 vaccine questions, proposals to increase wages for farmworkers and a sustainable local fashion business.
On this Monday, March 8, episode of Sundial:
COVID-19 Vaccine Questions
The United States is vaccinating an average of 2 million people a day, with Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines all on the market. But distribution has proven a greater challenge, with millions still waiting for their shots. There’ve been confusing scenes reported at vaccine distribution sites across South Florida.
Sundial senior producer Chris Remington went to a Florida City vaccination site over the weekend and found hundreds of people in line, with many of them not fitting the qualifications for vaccinations.
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We spoke with Dr. Aileen Marty, a member of the Miami-Dade COVID task force and professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University. She explained why it’s so critical for individuals to get the vaccine, regardless of their individual risk.
“Somewhere between 35 to 40 percent of the people who had COVID-19 continue to have symptoms. This includes people who had mild to moderate disease, not just the people who were hospitalized. We don't know how long those complications are going to last. That's one thing that they need to be very keenly aware of. The second thing that they have to consider is that the immunity that people get from the wild virus is really not necessarily quality immunity,” Marty said.
The CDC has released its list of guidelines for those that have already received their final dose and it may mean returning to some semblance of normalcy. People who are fully vaccinated can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or social distancing.
“That's what we've been longing for, for months now. So, yes, this [the vaccination] is very helpful. It fits with the science that we are that we've currently been able to gather on people who are vaccinated,” Marty said.
Florida employs the most seasonal migrant farmworkers of any state in the country. Agriculture is a huge part of the state’s economy, especially in areas like Palm Beach County.
A years-long fight has led to a slight federal wage increase for H-2A guest workers, from $11.71 to $12.08 an hour. A new investigation explored the significant role these guest workers play in Palm Beach County.
“They work on farms, usually picking or collecting fruits and vegetables, sometimes not. About 90 percent of them come from Mexico ... they come up here for a very specified period of time. Maybe they'll come up here to work just during watermelon picking season and they're going to pick watermelons between this date and that date,” said Wendy Rhoades, who covered the story for the Palm Beach Post.
The workers have an arrival date and an end date already scheduled before they come, with the farmers that employ them reimbursing housing and transportation costs.
“These are workers that come into the United States from other countries just on a temporary basis for a specific project. The way that they're paid is that they have to get the higher of the local prevailing wages, the state federal minimum wage or something called the adverse effect wage rate," Rhoades said.
The pandemic has affected all aspects of the fashion industry from how clothing is created to the outfits we choose to wear. COVID-19 has forced a spotlight on the inequities, racism and lack of environmental consciousness in the fashion world.
We spoke with Joanis Duran, the founder of the local sustainable and ethical fashion brand Kalani and Wolf.
“These huge fashion houses that produce fabric overseas or here locally, whatever they consider no longer wearable or may have a damage, we [Kalani and Wolf] will take those stock fabrics, re-salvage them and turn them into wearable apparel for women. We create masks, headpieces, dresses, and now we're going to be bringing in tops and bottoms,” Duran said.
Duran also stated that the pandemic has halted her business moving to an in-person store.
Her business is sustainable, as opposed to fast fashion.
“Fast fashion means more discarded goods, more stuff that ends up in landfills. There's more cheap fashion, cheap labor," said Asanyah Davidson, the chairperson at the Miami Fashion Institute in Miami Dade College. "Fast fashion has sort of become like the bone of contention within the industry. The fashion industry is the number two polluting industry in the world."