“What we’re seeing, still, is that a lot of families don’t have any other choice but to continue business as usual,” said Laura Hidalgo, the leader of a Covid-19 outreach team for Meet Each Need With Dignity, a nonprofit group based in Pacoima.
In Pacoima — a predominantly Latino neighborhood in San Fernando Valley where much of our story is set — one in five residents has been infected with Covid-19, compared with one in 24 residents of much whiter Santa Monica. Pacoima’s median household income is about $56,000, compared with $97,000 in Santa Monica.
If you explore the map, other similar contrasts show up: In El Sereno, a rapidly gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhood with a median household income of about $57,000, one in seven residents have been infected. In the neighboring South Pasadena, a small city of tree-lined streets that often shows up in movies as an idyllic American suburb, one in 22 residents have been infected. The median household income is roughly $106,000.
Daniel Flaming, president of the nonprofit Economic Roundtable, told me that “income polarization” within Los Angeles County, coupled with the fact that a large number of the region’s lower-paid workers are in service industries where they must interact with customers, has made the surge in the county, the nation’s most populous, particularly intense.
[See the Covid risk in your county. Hint: It’s probably high, if you live in California.]
But if you zoom in or out, the patterns, the inequities, repeat.
As one reader pointed out on Twitter, the city of Long Beach also has lower case rates in its wealthier, whiter east side ZIP codes, according to the city’s health and human services department website. (Over all, as our map shows, one in 10 Long Beach residents has gotten Covid-19.)
And on a larger scale, researchers for the Community and Labor Center at the University of California, Merced, wrote in a July policy brief that California’s summer surge was hammering counties with high concentrations of low-wage workers, including in the Central Valley, where relatively high case rates have persisted throughout the pandemic.
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