The coronavirus is spreading at alarming rates in California’s Central Valley, following a cruel and increasingly familiar path.
The demographics of those getting sick in the rural hamlets of America’s famed agricultural zone are the same as those who have been hit hard in big cities and suburbs: Essential workers — many of them Latino — who cannot stay home for financial reasons when they fall ill on the job and also have a hard time isolating in housing that can be crowded and multigenerational.
Public health officials and medical experts say the pattern of spread underscores the deep inequities of the coronavirus in California, which has infected Black and Latino communities and poorer regions at much higher rates than more affluent and white ones.
The surge in Central Valley cases has taken a particular toll on farmworkers, in part because they often live in close quarters, share transportation to job sites and have little access to healthcare. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the rate of positive coronavirus tests in the Central Valley ranges from 10.7% to as high as 17.7%. The state’s average is about 7.8% over the last seven days.
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