The state of Washington is giving out 50,000 free cloth masks for farmworkers through agricultural employer groups and labor advocates, to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The masks help prevent a person from spreading germs, such as the coronavirus, to others by coughing, sneezing or exhaling aerosol droplets. They do not provide the wearer the same level of protection that a medical-grade mask or N95 mask would. Federal and state health authorities advise reserving those masks for medical personnel, because they are in limited supply.

The Washington Growers League and the Washington State Tree Fruit Association both received masks from the state, and both organizations have limited stock and some rules for dispersal to make sure as many growers as possible have access.

The Tree Fruit Association would like growers and packers in Washington to let the organization know what equipment — masks, hand sanitizer or other items — they need but can’t find. Contact WSTFA President Jon DeVaney by email at

—by Ross Courtney