“COVID’s Hidden Toll”: Discussion With Filmmakers & Policy Leaders

Join the Berkeley Food Institute for screening of clips from the FRONTLINE PBS film, “COVID’s Hidden Toll”  and discussion with the film’s creators. Along with Assemblymember and Agriculture Committee Chair Robert Rivas, and other esteemed guests, we will examine the inequities for farmworkers’ health being exposed amid the current pandemic. 

The film, of which select clips will be shown, examines how the COVID crisis has hit vulnerable immigrants and undocumented workers. The documentary, follows the pandemic’s victims who are essential workers often invisible to many people relying on them, including crucial farm and meat-packing workers who lack protections and are suffering higher rates of illness.

See all speakers below.

Film Screening – “COVID’S Hidden Toll”

December 15, 2020, 2:30-3:30 p.m. PT



Access Coordinator: Nathalie Muñoz, namc93@berkeley.edu, 510-529-1533

CART Captioning will be provided. If you require any other accommodation for effective communication in order to fully participate in this virtual event, please contact Nathalie Muñoz at least 7–10 days in advance.


Speaker Bios

Photo of Assemblymember Rivas

Assemblymember Robert Rivas

Assemblymember Robert Rivas has represented California’s 30th Assembly District since 2018. A lifelong resident of the district, Rivas served two terms on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors prior to becoming an Assemblymember.

Rivas was raised in Paicines, California, where his grandfather was a farmworker at Almaden Vineyards. Rivas and his brother Rick grew up in farmworker housing, cared for by their single mother and beloved grandparents, who emigrated from Mexico in the 1960s.

As a child, Rivas watched his grandfather stand side by side with Cesar Chavez and the UFW as a leader in the fight to win equal rights and fair contracts for farmworkers. Rivas’ grandfather was known for his passionate advocacy on behalf of his fellow workers, but also for his ability to work with owners to negotiate contracts acceptable to both sides.

Through his grandfather, Rivas learned that you could fight fiercely for your beliefs, while respecting those with whom you disagreed. Still, it seemed unlikely that Rivas would become a community leader, at least not if doing so required public speaking. For much of his childhood he struggled to overcome a severe stutter that rendered him almost speechless. It was only after years of speech therapy that Rivas was able to overcome the disability.

Rivas’ childhood experiences – growing up in a farmworker community, struggling to overcome a disability – gave him a direct understanding of the challenges faced by many in our community as they struggle to build better lives for themselves and their families.

As an Assemblymember, Rivas’ first-term legislative achievements include securing passage of the Farmworker Housing Act, which streamlines the process to build quality housing for farmworkers and their families. He knows that safe and decent housing is essential for every Californian, and he continues to lead efforts to address the state’s housing crisis.

Rivas also won passage of the $89 million Golden State Teacher Grant Program, which provides $20,000 scholarships to teachers who commit to teach high-need subjects – like STEM, special education, and bilingual education – in schools facing a shortage of qualified teachers. The bill helps ensure that every student can get a high-quality education, regardless of which school they attend.

A long-time champion of the environment, Rivas won bipartisan support for the Oil Transportation Safety Act, which improves the state’s preparedness to protect coastal regions after a potential spill of nonfloating oil. The bill updates safety standards and ensures the state is ready to protect public health and marine life from this unique threat.

Rivas also authored and won passage of other significant legislation, including bills to improve bike safety, promote affordable housing on surplus state land, and ensure that the voices of low-income and minority communities are heard in key decisions.

Rivas attended local public schools in San Juan Batista and Hollister. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Government from CSU- Sacramento and later earned a Master’s in Public Administration from San Jose State University. Assemblymember Rivas lives in Hollister with his wife Christen and their 4-year-old daughter Melina.

Photo of Andrés Cediel

Andrés Cediel

Andrés Cediel is a documentary filmmaker, professor of Visual Journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and frequent contributor to the PBS program FRONTLINE. He was a Writer, Producer and Director of the Emmy Award winning piece, Kids Caught in the Crackdown, which detailed the mass detention of migrant children. He also produced Rape in the Fields and was a writer and producer of Rape on the Night Shift, which investigated the rampant sexual assault of immigrant women at work. The pieces combined to win a duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and the RFK Grand Prize for Journalism and were nominated for three national Emmys. He was a writer and producer of Trafficked in America which told the story migrant teenagers forced to work against their will, and co-produced The Judge and the General, a duPont-Columbia Journalism winner and Emmy-nominated film that chronicled human rights cases against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Photo of Daffodil Altan

Daffodil Altan

Filmmaker Daffodil Altan is a director, producer and correspondent at FRONTLINE, PBS’s flagship investigative documentary series. She directed, produced, wrote and was the correspondent for COVID’s Hidden Toll (2020), Kids Caught in the Crackdown (2019), an examination of the mass detention of migrant children and winner of a 2020 national Emmy award, and Trafficked in America (2018), which told the story of migrant teenagers forced to work against their will. She produced and directed the Emmy-nominated, Rape on the Night Shift (2015), which investigated the rampant sexual assault of immigrant women at work, and The Box (2105), an Emmy-nominated multi-media series that investigated New York City’s use of solitary confinement against teenagers in adult jails. Daffodil has worked in print and radio, in addition to film and has received awards for her work from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., The Society of Professional Journalists, The Third Coast Audio Festival, The San Francisco International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Press Club and the Imagen Foundation. She has a master’s degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she is also a lecturer.

Photo of Noe Paramo

Noe Paramo

Noe Paramo is on staff of California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation as Sustainable Rural Communities Project Co-Director and Legislative Advocate.  For 15 years, Noe worked for California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. at the Modesto office.  Noe was the Advisory Committee Chair for the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at CSU Fresno.  Noe is the co-chair of the Sierra Health Foundation San Joaquin Valley Health Fund governance committee.  Noe’s work focuses on social justice policies supporting farmworkers and low-income rural communities.  Mr. Paramo holds a BA degree in Political Science from UC Davis and a JD from Hastings College of the Law.