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Jill Biden urges farmworkers to get vaccinated in California


DELANO, Calif. (AP) – First lady Jill Biden praised California farmworkers for their persistence during the pandemic and urged them to get vaccinated during a visit Wednesday to an agricultural region of the state.

“Without the farmworkers who kept harvesting our food, or the factory workers who packaged it, or the grocery store clerks who stocked our shelves, hey, we wouldn’t have made it through this year,” Biden said.

She delivered remarks at The Forty Acres, once the headquarters of the United Farm Workers and now a vaccination site for those workers. She was joined by Gov. Gavin Newsom, farmworkers and volunteers to celebrate the state holiday honoring UFW leader César Chávez.

President Joe Biden has a bust of Chávez in the Oval Office.

The site is in Kern County, one of the larger counties in the agricultural Central Valley that has been hard hit by the pandemic. Three-quarters of the population in the small city of Delano is Latino, a demographic that has seen a disproportionate number of virus deaths in the state.

Biden urged farmworkers to get the shot, referencing Pope Francis’ comments that people have a moral obligation to be vaccinated.

“Every one of us has a part to play ourselves, for our families and for those we don’t even know,” she said.

Farmworkers were among one of the early groups eligible for coronavirus vaccinations, and Newsom last month directed more doses for the region’s workers. Kern ranks 15th among California counties for total vaccinations so far, with about 283,000 doses administered, according to state data.

Newsom said the vaccination site volunteers are in the mold of Chávez. “I want to applaud each and every one of you for stepping up and stepping in for supporting your community,” he said.

His appearance alongside Biden comes as he faces a likely recall election later this year. Biden did not mention the governor’s political standing but thanked him for his work on the coronavirus, climate change and support for essential workers and farmworkers.

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