Initially spared, California’s rural agricultural areas now being ravaged by COVID-19

California
Farmworkers from Fresh Harvest maintain a safe distance as a machine is moved on April 27, 2020 in Greenfield. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Farmworkers from Fresh Harvest maintain a safe distance as a machine is moved on April 27, 2020, in Greenfield. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

It was once said that California’s coronavirus pandemic was hitting dense urban areas the hardest.

Now, it’s rural, agricultural areas that are among the most severely affected.

“The epidemic is moving from urban Latino populations to rural Latino populations,” Dr. George Rutherford, epidemiologist and infectious-diseases expert at UC San Francisco, said Wednesday. The risk factors are the same: low-income essential workers who live in crowded housing and must leave home to work and earn money and who may be less likely to speak up to call attention to problematic workplace safety conditions.

Earlier in the pandemic, Los Angeles County was one of the hot spots for new infections. By June, it was Imperial County. The rural, agricultural and impoverished county east of San Diego soared up the list as California’s hardest hit county, in terms of new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. Imperial County hit its worst number on June 16, when there were 1,438 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous two weeks.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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