Agriculture Guidance

General Information about COVID-19 

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)? 
The 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus is a virus that causes a disease called COVID-19. The most common symptoms include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus is spread person-to-person, either in close contact (about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is no evidence that animals, including pets and farm animals, can spread COVID-19 nor that might they be a source of infection in the U.S. Older adults, pregnant women, and individuals of any age with serious chronic medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, lung disease).
Who can I contact about general questions about COVID-19? 
Please call the Madison County COVID-19 Hotline: 315-366-2770 or the Upstate University Hospital Triage Line: 315-464-3979.  

Executive Orders Issued for Public and Private Sector Entities during the COVID-19 Outbreak  
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Governor enacted new restrictions for both public and private sector entities. This includes temporary closures of non-essential services, occupancy limits, and in-person workforce reductions. The Madison County Health Department requests that all agricultural operations take steps to protect your employees, families and businesses from the impact of COVID-19.  

For the most up-to-date information, please visit:  

What Agricultural Employers Can Do to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 

  • Make sure all farm workers learn about COVID-19, how it spreads, and how to prevent getting infected. 
  • Ensure all workers stay home if they have any symptoms of illness.  
  • All workers should take their temperature when arriving on-site and be sent home if above 100.4 °F. Consider implementing a paid sick leave to encourage workers to stay home.  
  • Designate and maintain work partners to limit the number of people potentially exposed to illness.  
  • Be aware of absences. If a worker reports an illness inquire into their symptoms. If symptoms include fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, contact the Madison County Health Department to discuss appropriateness for testing.

IMPORTANT: If a person experiences emergency warning signs – difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips/face – call 911 and get medical attention. Inform the operator of the concern for COVID-19.  

  • Keep track of people who enter the farm and when (i.e. workforce, milk truck drivers, veterinarians). If someone on your farm becomes ill with COVID-19, the Health Department will be working to identify their close contacts and we will be asking you, as the employer, for a list of contacts. 
  • Facilities to wash hands should be available to all employees and employees should be encouraged to wash hands often, but especially after coughing or sneezing.  
  • Employers should ensure that workers practice social distancing. Employees should not congregate for meals/breaks and should maintain at least 6-feet separation from other people at all times. 
  • Require all workers to wear cloth face coverings when they are near others to minimize the spread of germs. Encourage employees to cough or sneeze into their sleeve, even while wearing masks. 
  • Before temporary workers from other farms are used, employers should make sure that they are healthy without a fever or other symptoms.  
  • Employers should clean and disinfect any areas where employees routinely visit (i.e. bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces).  

What All Workers Can Do to Prevent Spread of Germs  

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.   
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.  
  • Practice social distancing among employees 
    • Stay at home as much as possible – avoid public gatherings and unnecessary appointments  
    • Keep 6 feet of distance from others in public and in the workplace  
    • Cancel unnecessary travel plans 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (tv remotes, tables, tools, doorknobs, etc.).

What to do if your Employee has a Possible Exposure to COVID-19  

  • The person with possible exposure should call their primary care provider (PCP) or the Upstate University Hospital Triage Line: (315) 464-3979.  
  • They should stay home, except to receive medical care
  • Contact the Madison County Department of Health at (315) 366-2361

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, Madison County Department of Health will reach out to you to determine who else may be at risk. The course of action will be determined as a joint decision. 

Governor’s Executive Order: Mandatory Face Coverings for Essential Workers
To protect the health of employees and public, all employees of essential businesses are mandated to wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide face coverings for their employees effective Wednesday, April 15 at 8pm.  
To learn more, visit:

Additional Resources:  

Updated April 14, 4:00 PM