Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced that more funds and support will be sent to the Central Valley, an area that has been particularly hit hard by the novel coronavirus.
California will invest $52 million in eight counties in the region: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern, according to the governor.
In announcing financial assistance to the counties, Newsom explained that the latest data shows the virus’ spread is more rampant in certain areas of the state compared to others.
“It’s not happening evenly in every part of the state. There are certain parts of the state, certain regions in the state, in certain sectors of our economy that are disproportionately impacted by the transmission of this virus,” he said at a Monday news conference.
Newsom also expressed concern over the number of infections among Latinos, who are experiencing higher rates of transmission across the state as well as in the Central Valley.
Statewide, Latinos make up nearly 39% of California’s population, but account for 56% of all confirmed cases and nearly 46% of COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
The number of coronavirus fatalities among Latinos in the Central Valley is also disproportionate compared to the population, the statement read. One example cited by the governor’s office is Fresno County, where Latinos comprise almost 53% of the population but account for 65% of COVID-19 deaths.
“This is alarming and we are taking action,” Newsom said.
Most of the new funding will coming primarily from a grant the state received from the federal government and will go in part to help improve testing capacity, contact tracing and quarantine efforts.
More resources, including regional unified response teams and additional supplies, will also be sent to the area.
A Central Valley Task Force has also been established at the state operation’s center, according to Newsom.
California’s testing positivity rate is currently around 7.5% for the past two weeks, but in the Central Valley it ranges from 10.7% to 17.7%.
The Golden State saw another increase in cases over the weekend, bringing its total number of infections to above 460,000 — still the most in the nation. More than 8,440 Californians have succumbed to the virus, according to the latest figures.
Hospitalizations have also been trending upward in recent weeks. Another slight increase in the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals and intensive care units was reported over the weekend.
At his last COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Newsom pledged to provide more protections for essential workers in the state, saying he would work with California lawmakers on new legislation.