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‘The Well’s Been Poisoned’: How Mixed Messaging on COVID Battered California’s Central Valley



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A former mayor used to describe Fresno as a “tale of two cities” to illustrate the historic racial and economic disparities that divide the county seat of California’s heartland. In a pandemic where all of society’s inequities have been laid bare, the city’s tale has spread across the region, locals say.

At the heart of California’s Central Valley, Fresno county and its namesake city is struggling to shoulder an onslaught of infections that have overwhelmed an overburdened healthcare system and devastated communities of low-wage, primarily Latinx essential agriculture workers.

“It’s really in some ways a failure that we as a community have allowed this epidemic to get this far,” said Dr Rais Vohra, the county’s interim health officer, in a briefing in which he announced that the county’s hospitals were activating their surge protocols.

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