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California Governor sends aid to hard-hit Central Valley, a large agricultural and Latinx hub

Now a coronavirus hot spot, California’s Central Valley — an agricultural machine — is leaving Latinos vulnerable.

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On July 27, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a federal grant aimed at slowing COVID-19’s rampage through California’s Central Valley.

The Central Valley is predominantly Latino, where “essential workers” have been forced to work on the frontlines as agricultural workers. Since the start of the pandemic, increases in cases have been particularly felt there, where Latinos are the demographic majority.

Newsom acknowledged this, prompting the California Legislature to approve $52 million to improve testing, contact tracing and isolation protocols in the Valley, focusing on eight Counties.

“COVID-19 disproportionately impacts the Latinx community.” tweeted Newsom on July 27.

“Rising rates in the Central Valley are concerning. CA is making $52M available to increase testing, contact tracing and quarantine efforts, and sending strike teams to 4 counties with increased cases and hospitalizations,” he continued. 
 

The strike teams will be deployed later this week, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Nationwide, and California in particular, Latinos and Black Americans have contracted COVID-19 at an alarming rate over other demographics — but the discrepancies are highlighted among Latinos.

Farmworkers in California’s Central Valley have been particularly hit-hard, with up to 70% of new cases of COVID-19 in California’s San Joaquin Valley being Latino workers who lack adequate testing and healthcare access.

While California’s positivity rate has plateaued at 7.5%, the Central Valley has been battling positivity rates reaching as high as 17% in some counties.

These efforts to curb the positivity rate in California are funded in part with a grant from the CDC, which provided California nearly $500 million to support its fight against COVID-19 efforts. 

They mirror efforts made in Imperial County, a county with a similarly high Latino population and agricultural producer, which has been one of the hardest-hit in California.

Latinos are arguably the backbone of California, the largest agricultural producer in the United States. For too long the excuse of them being “frontline workers” or “essential” as led to unnecessary, disproportionate death rates. Newsom’s millions will help, but an earlier response would have diverted such a cost.

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