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Looking back: Adapting to a pandemic

A tractor shown in a McLean County field last April / CIFN photo.

Not only have farmers dealt with questionable weather during the 2020 growing season, but the impact of COVID-19 continued to be felt everywhere.

Central Illinois farmer Dennis Wentworth feels for the families whether they are in the city or rural areas, as challenges continue.

“I’ve been really impressed with how communities have hung together to try protecting each other,” Wentworth told the Central Illinois Farm Network in an early May interview.

On his own operation, Wentworth adapted to the times by keeping farm employees and family members separated and minimizing contact with others. This includes chemical or seed suppliers and repair shops.

“Everybody is really on board with trying to minimize contact and trying to prevent the spread of this disease,” added Wentworth.

Dr. John Rinker, who serves as Chief Medical Officer at OSF HealthCare St. James John W. Albrecht Medical Center, offered some tips to farmers to stay safe and healthy during the times of COVID-19.

“If you don’t have to share space in a cab, I would go solo and have one person man one piece of equipment if that’s possible.”

A trip to town should also be avoided whenever possible but if you must go, Rinker recommended proper hygiene and distancing. It all comes down to applying all of the basic health guidelines to your own farming operation.

COVID-19 is just as much of a threat to the rural areas as the cities even though it is not as widely spread around here just yet.

“More densely populated areas are probably the first and hardest hit,” Rinker said.

This is no way means we are insulated from the problem in farm country – we will probably see a delay before numbers start to rise more when compared to the larger metro areas. Coronavirus can be especially concerning to rural areas with fewer resources for residents.

In order to stop the virus spread, Rinker suggested staying home if at all possible and socially isolating yourself from other members of the community. When looking at the data, social isolation works and is useful.

“Wash your hands constantly and obsessively,” Rinker added.


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