Photos: Helping migrant farmworkers protect themselves from COVID-19 in Immokalee, Florida

Nurses from the Collier County Department of Health finish giving a COVID-19 test to a local resident. On the day this photo was taken, 97 people received free COVID-19 tests.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Click to hide Text

In the southwestern Florida community of Immokalee, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers and other essential workers have had no choice but to stay on the job amid the coronavirus pandemic. Across the United States, farmworkers are at particularly high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to crowded living and transportation conditions, and limited ability to prevent infection at the workplace. Long workdays and language barriers often keep them from reaching the health services they need.

Many farmworkers work long hours, six days a week. They can’t afford to take a day off work to visit a clinic, so we are bringing the clinics to them at a convenient time and place, and in a safe environment.

Maria Plata, MSF health promoter

To respond to these needs, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched a public health education campaign in collaboration with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and ran free, mobile COVID-19 testing clinics with the Collier County Department of Health and the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida. “Many farmworkers work long hours, six days a week,” said Maria Plata, a local MSF health promoter. “They can’t afford to take a day off work to visit a clinic, so we are bringing the clinics to them at a convenient time and place, and in a safe environment.” After a two-month run, MSF handed over COVID-19 activities to the county health department and local partners last week. 

Public health outreach

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
MSF nurse and health promotion manager Sarah Kuech (left) and MSF health promoter Maria Plata (right) wave to residents of Immokalee while spreading the word about free clinics in the area.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

Nurse and health promotion manager Sarah Kuech (left) and MSF health promoter Maria Plata wave goodbye to residents after an outreach visit.

Mobile testing clinics

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

The mobile clinics offer services in easily accessible, public spaces within the community during evening hours, with staff who speak English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.

MSF’s Florida team

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
MSF logistics manager Katie Irwin.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
MSF logistician Adrian Alcantar.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
MSF health promoter Dr. Joseph Desulme.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
Meredith Moody, MSF nurse and infection prevention and control manager for the Immokalee project in Florida.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
MSF project coordinator Susan Doyle.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
MSF health promoter Maria Plata.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
Sarah Kuech, MSF nurse and health promotion activities manager for the Immokalee project.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
MSF contact tracer Dr. Renold Roseme.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
MSF contact tracer Victor Yengle.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
Nurse Sonny Pierre with the Collier County Department of Health.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
Reyna Escobedo, a volunteer from the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF
Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

People sit six feet apart waiting their turn to register for a COVID-19 test. 

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

MSF contact tracer Dr. Renold Roseme (left) and Healthcare Network volunteer Reyna Escobedo register people for testing. 

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

Nurse Sonny Pierre with the Collier County Department of Health puts on his personal protective equipment (PPE) before his shift begins.

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

Nurses from the Collier County Department of Health finish administering a COVID-19 test. On the day this photo was taken, 97 people were tested. 

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

Nurse Sonny Pierre gives a thumbs up to a patient after completing a COVID-19 test.  

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
Team members Jenna Hostetler (right) and Jessica Gonzalez (left) consult with a patient in the discharge tent at a mobile COVID-19 testing clinic in Immokalee.
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

In the discharge tent, MSF contact tracer Jenna Hostetler (right) and Healthcare Network volunteer Jessica Gonzalez speak with each patient. 

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

MSF contact tracer Victor Yengle hangs a multilingual banner encouraging frequent handwashing.

Florida_COVID-19 Response for Migrant Farmworkers
United States 2020 © Taimy Alvarez/MSF

MSF nurse and infection prevention and control manager Meredith Moody covers a mobile clinic from rain. 

MSF handed over COVID-19 activities to local organizations on June 22 and is continuing to provide support remotely until the end of June. Sign up here to receive the latest updates on our ongoing US operations.