Briefing for August 24-28, 2020 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities - Freedman Consulting, LLC
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Briefing for August 24-28, 2020 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

Briefing for August 24-28, 2020 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

We are struck that one of the few certainties about the coronavirus outbreak is that low-income communities and workers in low-income, service sector occupations will be disproportionately impacted. Likely in devastating fashion.

One step in combatting this will be to share information about what is happening and what can be done.  That’s why we are offering this daily news service summarizing relevant stories, and a concise weekly summary alternative as well.  You can see it below.

If you would like to receive a daily or weekly briefing, feel free to subscribe here.

Briefing for August 28, 2020




Where to prioritize emergency rental assistance to keep renters in their homes: The pandemic’s economic and health impacts are exacerbating the nation’s affordable housing and homelessness crises — adding more low-income renters to the millions already at risk of eviction and homelessness and widening racial disparities in housing instability. As states and localities allocate emergency rental assistance funds to help renters avoid losing their homes, local leaders must decide where to prioritize their resources. To help inform those decisions, the Urban Institute has developed the Emergency Rental Assistance Priority Index. The index estimates the level of need in a census tract by measuring the prevalence of low-income renters who are at risk of experiencing housing instability and homelessness. To do this, it examines neighborhood conditions and demographics, incorporating instability risk factors before the pandemic as well as the pandemic’s economic impacts.

What mayors can do to help when a coronavirus vaccine is available: When and if a vaccine does become available, leaders at the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies have four key suggestions for mayors to be sure it’s widely and equitably used. 

  • Communicate in meaningful, personally relevant terms 
  • Earn the public’s confidence that vaccine allocation and distribution are even handed 
  • Make vaccination available in safe, convenient, and familiar places.
  • Establish accountability systems. 


When students learn remotely, who feeds them? It’s not just face-to-face access with teachers and peers that many students will miss when attending school remotely. Using two nationally representative studies, a Brookings Institute analysis used data from the USDA food security questionnaire in late April 2020 to conclude that overall rates of household food insecurity have effectively doubled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Those hunger rates are even higher for families with children; more than one in five households, and two in five households with children 12 and under, reported that the food they bought didn’t last and that they didn’t have enough money to get more.

‘The Untold, True Story of America’s Middle Class’: Even as the pandemic focuses attention on income inequality and lack of opportunity for many in America, New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley’s new book looks at the economic forces that have decimated a once thriving middle class — a group too often thought as being dominated by only white men. Tankersley was interviewed by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.

‘Racial inequality may be as deadly as COVID-19,’ analysis finds: Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, mortality rates and life expectancy are far better for white Americans than they are for Black people during normal, non-pandemic years, according to an analysis published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As nation reckons with race, poll finds white Americans least engaged: As the nation navigates its most consequential racial justice movement in a half-century, some people have responded to the calls for action to remedy the country’s racist past and present by protesting in the streets or doing something as simple as reading a book about race. But a new NPR/Ipsos poll finds that these people remain a minority. Though advocates believe true equality will not be achieved until all Americans are willing to grapple with racism, the survey showed that just 36% of those polled said they had taken concrete action to better understand racial issues after George Floyd’s killing. White people were the least likely to have done so, at just 30%. That compares with 51% of Latinos, 49% of Asians, and 41% of Black people who answered “Yes” when asked: “Since the death of George Floyd in May, have you personally taken any actions to better understand racial issues in America?”

Online instruction dominates in urban school districts that serve families with low incomes: School districts in urban areas and those that serve the most children in poverty are the most likely to be offering full-time remote instruction this fall, according to a report released Thursday by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a Seattle-based research organization. A little more than a quarter — 26% — of districts will begin the year fully remote. Another 12% will kick-off the year in a hybrid model, where students get a mix of remote and in-person instruction. And 85% of districts will offer families the choice to go fully remote, even if that means also offering some in person or hybrid instruction.

Is everyone receiving the benefits of urban parks equally? Benita Hussain, a climate activist and director of the 10 Minute Walk at The Trust for Public Land, writes in The Hill: “With parks providing a surmounting list of health benefits, a key question for today’s leaders is: How do we make sure that all city residents have equal access to green space? First, we must treat parks as vehicles for inclusivity and economic security. They are not just beautiful landscapes, but necessary public health infrastructure and essential for strong, climate-resilient cities.”

Briefing for August 27, 2020



‘Our communities are in crisis’ — Latinos and COVID-19: California health officials are alarmed that Latinos continue to get sick and die from COVID-19 at far higher rates than other groups. Latinos make up 39% of California’s population but account for almost 60% of all Coronavirus infections and almost half of all deaths. “Our communities are in crisis,” says Luz Gallegos, the Community Programs Director for TODEC, which works with the Latinx communities in Southern and Central California. “COVID-19 is real, it’s not a myth. And it’s killing our loved ones.”  

Latinx workers — particularly women — have faced some of the most damaging economic and health effects of the coronavirus: A new Economic Policy Institute report explores the economic, health, and social conditions faced by Latinx workers and their families during the coronavirus pandemic. Some key findings: 

  • While two-thirds of white workers can earn paid sick days, less than half (45.9%) of Latinx workers have that same benefit. 
  • Among those aged 35–44, Latinx Americans are nearly nine times as likely to die from COVID as white Americans. 
  • Latino workers are paid only $0.75 for every dollar paid to a white man. Latina workers, who face both gender and ethnic discrimination, are paid even less — $0.64 on the white male dollar. 
  • More than one in six Latinx people in this country live below the poverty line — that’s below about $26,000 annual income for a family of four. 
  • Latinx renters were far more likely to not have paid their July rent than white renters. And they were far less confident in their ability to pay August’s rent than white renters. Among the employed, Latinx workers are over three times as likely to be uninsured as white workers.
     

The coronavirus gave them new job  and a new lease on life: A Los Angeles nonprofit has put dozens of hard-to-employ clients to work at hotels and motels on lease to Los Angeles County to shelter homeless people who are at risk of complications from COVID-19 because of their age or medical conditions. As the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority built staffs to run the 38 hotels that are now leased through Project Roomkey, it needed to fill a variety of jobs not usually associated with hospitality — security guards, case managers, nurses and dozens of people to tend to the guests’ needs. 

Cities risk losing trillions in aid as census deadline looms: America’s mayors are scrambling to get every dollar they can as coronavirus pummels local budgets, and they risk losing even more if they can’t get historically undercounted communities to participate in the census, whose deadline is fast approaching. What’s at stake is both political representation and a share of the trillions of federal dollars over the next decade that will be distributed based on population. An undercount in communities that have already been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus could exacerbate the very inequities the virus itself has exposed. 

Many workers of color among 1,080 healthcare workers lost to pandemic: More than 1,000 front-line health care workers reportedly have died of COVID-19, according to Lost on the Frontline, an ongoing investigation by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News to track and memorialize every U.S. health care worker who dies from the coronavirus. Earlier this month, the organizations published a major interactive database. It is the most comprehensive accounting of U.S. health care workers’ deaths in the country. The virus has taken a disproportionate toll on communities of color and immigrants — and health workers haven’t been spared. Guardian and KHN reporters have published profiles of 177 of the 1,080 victims we have identified based on obituaries, news reports, social media posts and other sources. Of those 177, 62.1% were identified as Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander or Native American, and 30.5% were born outside the United States. Both figures support findings that people of color and immigrants (regardless of race) are dying at higher rates than their white and U.S.-born counterparts. 

You don’t have to pay your student loan right now  but here’s why you should: Part of American lawmakers’ sweeping stimulus efforts in response to the pandemic included federal student loan relief — meaning borrowers don’t have to make their student loan payments and won’t be penalized for non-payments. But if you’re carrying student debt and can still afford to pay the monthly loan, experts say you absolutely should. All federal student loan borrowers benefit from the CARES Act’s interest suspension, which will help you pay off the loan more quickly. 

Briefing for August 26, 2020



Some students can no longer afford college because of the pandemic: Thousands of young people across the country are grappling with difficult questions as the fall semester draws near. If they don’t go back to school because of financial concerns, when will they? What’s more important — making money to live day-to-day or furthering their education in the hopes that it will eventually pay off? The decision is murky, with each path spreading into the unknown. 

Disasters are driving a mental health crisis: From climate-fueled storms to COVID-19, mounting catastrophes are sowing stress and trauma. The country’s one program to help reaches only a fraction of survivors. 

The racial gap on coronavirus vaccine: Black Americans are less likely than white Americans to say they plan to get a flu vaccine this year, and significantly less likely to say they’ll take a first-generation coronavirus vaccine, according to numbers from the latest edition of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index

How the federal government makes it difficult for tribal epidemiologists to do their job: As Indigenous and other communities of color bear the brunt of COVID-19, tribal epidemiologists across the US are struggling to access potentially life-saving information: several of the 12 TECs have reported paltry responses to their requests for data. These centers are prepared to fight the virus with public health messaging, contact tracing, and population surveillance in Native communities — if only they knew where to focus. Without the data, the virus is allowed to spread not only within tribes, but throughout the general public as well. 

Texas already lacked affordable childcare  Then COVID-19 hit: The coronavirus has temporarily or permanently closed almost half of all childcare providers in the state, leaving few options for low-income working families.  

Cities try ‘learning hubs’ to keep students on track with online learning: As a school year unlike any other begins with most children learning online, some parents are forming “pandemic pods” with other families to split the cost of hiring a tutor to keep their children up to speed on schoolwork and showing up to Zooms on time. Now, a growing number of cities are setting up similar programs for families who can’t afford such an arrangement. They’re called “learning hubs,” and they’re the latest local-government innovation bubbling up in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Pandemic is a ‘crisis within a crisis’ for homeless people: At the start of the pandemic in March, researchers warned that at least 1,700 of the nation’s estimated 568,000 homeless people could eventually die of COVID-19. The administration’s homelessness czar told Congress in July there had been just 130 homeless deaths, noting that was “significantly lower than had been originally projected.” However, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism tracked at least 153 deaths of homeless people in the same time period in just six areas with large homeless populations — San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Phoenix — and at least 206 deaths nationwide by early August. 

As evictions resume in Houston, low-income Texans fear losing a place to live: According to a survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, 39% of renters in Texas weren’t certain they could pay their rent in August, but most eviction moratoriums enacted during the pandemic’s initial blow to the economy have expired. That includes moratoriums at national, state, county and city levels. The Texas Supreme Court lifted its statewide moratorium in mid-May. A provision included in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which delayed evictions for tenants of federally backed housing, expired in late July. 

‘I’ve already cried enough’  Memphis parents try to cope with the stress of online school: MLK50: Justice Through Journalism profiles a group of Memphis families with children in the city’s public school system. “I feel like he’s losing his innocence because he’s constantly surrounded by adults and having adult conversations rather than being with his friends and talking about Beyblades and Minecraft or whatever they’re into at that moment,” saysEdith Ornelas, a community organizer with the Mariposas Collective, about her son, Isar, 9, who is a fourth-grader at Idlewild Elementary School. “I’ve already cried enough. I either have a choice to keep crying about what’s going on in the world or… create a more positive environment for all of us.” 

USDA opposes allowing schools to serve free meals to all students: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has doubled down on its refusal to let schools serve free meals to all students this fall — despite rising food insecurity and pleas from anti-hunger advocates, school nutrition officials, and lawmakers. “While we want to provide as much flexibility as local school districts need during this pandemic, the scope of this request is beyond what USDA currently has the authority to implement and would be closer to a universal school meals program which Congress has not authorized or funded,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue wrote in a letter last Thursday explaining the decision. 

Some students can no longer afford college because of the pandemic: Thousands of young people across the country are grappling with difficult questions as the fall semester draws near. If they don’t go back to school because of financial concerns, when will they? What’s more important — making money to live day-to-day or furthering their education in the hopes that it will eventually pay off? The decision is murky, with each path spreading into the unknown. 

Disasters are driving a mental health crisis: From climate-fueled storms to COVID-19, mounting catastrophes are sowing stress and trauma. The country’s one program to help reaches only a fraction of survivors. 

The racial gap on coronavirus vaccine: Black Americans are less likely than white Americans to say they plan to get a flu vaccine this year, and significantly less likely to say they’ll take a first-generation coronavirus vaccine, according to numbers from the latest edition of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index

How the federal government makes it difficult for tribal epidemiologists to do their job: As Indigenous and other communities of color bear the brunt of COVID-19, tribal epidemiologists across the US are struggling to access potentially life-saving information: several of the 12 TECs have reported paltry responses to their requests for data. These centers are prepared to fight the virus with public health messaging, contact tracing, and population surveillance in Native communities — if only they knew where to focus. Without the data, the virus is allowed to spread not only within tribes, but throughout the general public as well. 

Texas already lacked affordable childcare  Then COVID-19 hit: The coronavirus has temporarily or permanently closed almost half of all childcare providers in the state, leaving few options for low-income working families.  

Cities try ‘learning hubs’ to keep students on track with online learning: As a school year unlike any other begins with most children learning online, some parents are forming “pandemic pods” with other families to split the cost of hiring a tutor to keep their children up to speed on schoolwork and showing up to Zooms on time. Now, a growing number of cities are setting up similar programs for families who can’t afford such an arrangement. They’re called “learning hubs,” and they’re the latest local-government innovation bubbling up in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Pandemic is a ‘crisis within a crisis’ for homeless people: At the start of the pandemic in March, researchers warned that at least 1,700 of the nation’s estimated 568,000 homeless people could eventually die of COVID-19. The administration’s homelessness czar told Congress in July there had been just 130 homeless deaths, noting that was “significantly lower than had been originally projected.” However, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism tracked at least 153 deaths of homeless people in the same time period in just six areas with large homeless populations — San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Phoenix — and at least 206 deaths nationwide by early August. 

As evictions resume in Houston, low-income Texans fear losing a place to live: According to a survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, 39% of renters in Texas weren’t certain they could pay their rent in August, but most eviction moratoriums enacted during the pandemic’s initial blow to the economy have expired. That includes moratoriums at national, state, county and city levels. The Texas Supreme Court lifted its statewide moratorium in mid-May. A provision included in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which delayed evictions for tenants of federally backed housing, expired in late July. 

‘I’ve already cried enough’  Memphis parents try to cope with the stress of online school: MLK50: Justice Through Journalism profiles a group of Memphis families with children in the city’s public school system. “I feel like he’s losing his innocence because he’s constantly surrounded by adults and having adult conversations rather than being with his friends and talking about Beyblades and Minecraft or whatever they’re into at that moment,” saysEdith Ornelas, a community organizer with the Mariposas Collective, about her son, Isar, 9, who is a fourth-grader at Idlewild Elementary School. “I’ve already cried enough. I either have a choice to keep crying about what’s going on in the world or… create a more positive environment for all of us.” 

USDA opposes allowing schools to serve free meals to all students: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has doubled down on its refusal to let schools serve free meals to all students this fall — despite rising food insecurity and pleas from anti-hunger advocates, school nutrition officials, and lawmakers. “While we want to provide as much flexibility as local school districts need during this pandemic, the scope of this request is beyond what USDA currently has the authority to implement and would be closer to a universal school meals program which Congress has not authorized or funded,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue wrote in a letter last Thursday explaining the decision. 

Briefing for August 25, 2020



Debt, eviction and hunger  Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets vanish: From the Washington Post: “One of the most successful elements of the government’s response to the coronavirus recession — protecting people on the margins from falling into poverty — is faltering as the safety net shrinks and federal benefits expire. Major recessions are especially fraught for low-income earners, whose finances can veer from tenuous to dire with one missed paycheck. But as the economy cratered this spring, economists and poverty experts were mildly surprised to discover that the torrent of government support that followed — particularly the $600 a week in expanded unemployment benefits and one-time $1,200 stimulus checks — likely lowered the overall poverty rate. In fact, 17 million people would have dropped below the poverty line without the $500 billion in direct intervention for American families, said Zach Parolin, a researcher at Columbia University. Now, data show, those gains are eroding as federal inaction deprives Americans on the financial margins of additional support. If the unemployment rate stays around 10% and no new stimulus is delivered, ‘…we can expect poverty rates to rise and climb higher than those observed in the Great Recession,’ Parolin said.” 

‘Landlords are just waiting’: Housing analysts continue to brace for a deluge of evictions as federal protections lapse. At the same time that federal bans come to an end, many states that paused their own proceedings have now allowed them to resume. Since July 15, eviction moratoriums have lapsed in Michigan, Maryland, Maine and Indiana. “It’s going to be chaos,” said Eric Dunn, director of litigation at the National Housing Law Project. 

Black tech mobilizes to beat the ‘summer slide’: The achievement gap for historically disadvantaged student groups, on top of a pandemic, puts Black youth especially at risk this summer. As remote learning continues, STEM-related nonprofits The Hidden Genius Project and INTech Camp for Girls are making sure that their scholars do not face an opportunity to slip. This story comes from a special COVID-19 collection curated by the Solutions Journalism Network. 

Eliminating payroll tax could deplete Social Security by 2023: Eliminating the payroll tax could deplete the Social Security trust fund within three years if there’s no alternative source of revenue, according to the agency’s chief actuary. The analysis was done at the request of four Democratic senators, who asked the agency to run the numbers after President Donald Trump said he would terminate payroll taxes if he’s reelected. 

Pandemic pounded Arkansas poultry workers as government and industry looked on: Across Arkansas, at least 35 poultry plants have had five or more workers test positive for the virus, according to data from the state Department of Health. Since mid-May, the number of poultry workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 statewide has increased by more than 4,250%. Currently, more than 4,600 Arkansas poultry plant workers have contracted the virus, more than 1,400 of whom work in Tyson plants. And poultry plant clusters have contributed to outbreaks in many rural Arkansas communities: In Danville, nearly 200 of the 771 people employed by Wayne Farms’ processing plant have tested positive for the virus. Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson plants contributed significantly to an outbreak in Sevier County, where more than one-third of COVID-19 cases have been among poultry workers. Statewide, at least 22 workers have died of the virus. 

How one Virginia community improved COVID-19 collaboration and communication: Laurie Archbald-Pannone writes for The Conversation: “In my home state of Virginia, nursing home residents make up more than half the state’s COVID-19 related deaths. That statistic alone emphasizes the critical need for infection control and sufficient support for these residencies. I’m a physician who specializes in geriatric medicine and works at an academic medical center. Since March 2020, I have led a team to develop a collaborative care model for nursing homes in our community. That means bringing together hospitals, physician groups, community agencies and health departments to figure out how we can all work collectively to improve outcomes for these residents during the pandemic.” 

Why are only 4% of SNAP families buying groceries online? From Talk Poverty: “With its recent expansion to 44 states (including the District of Columbia), USDA says online SNAP is now accessible to more than 90% of users — or around 34 million people — who rely on the social safety net program each year. Another three states were approved to participate and are in the process of implementing the program for their eligible populations. According to the federal agency, since online SNAP’s widespread implementation due to COVID-19, usership has increased. A spokesperson from USDA noted via written request that in March 2020, close to 35,000 SNAP households shopped online. By June, more than 800,000 households were participating. While that is a dramatic increase, it is only 4% of the households receiving SNAP. Despite recognition of the program’s importance in the face of the pandemic, users, food security advocates, and legislators have raised flags. Experts like Ed Bolen, senior policy analyst at the Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that though extensive research on the impact of online SNAP is yet to be conducted, anecdotally his organization has heard from a number of users about issues with learning about, accessing, and fully utilizing the online purchasing and delivery resource. Additionally, users must navigate order minimums and delivery fees as the USDA prohibits the use of SNAP funding for these costs. 

Refugees expelled as pandemic rages: The Trump administration is now sending asylum-seekers back without even a hearing.

Briefing for August 24, 2020



The crippling return of long-term unemployment: AEI’s Michael Strain writes for Bloomberg Opinion that, “…in the discussion of the economic emergency facing the U.S., we need to pay more attention to how long-term unemployment affects people’s health, including mental health.” 

Federal eviction protections continue to lapse today: Newsweek reports that while the eviction moratorium provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act expired on July 25, a 30-day-notice window gave tenants a little added cushion. “But come Monday, the extra time will be up and the lack of congressional action means renters are left on their own.” 

Across the country at the moment, evictions are down  For now: Bloomberg City Lab reports that eviction numbers continue to be down from last year across the country, likely due to continuing protections in some states and closed courthouses in many jurisdictions. Kriston Capps writes: “America had an eviction crisis long before this year, and even a stall in evictions does not signal good news for tenants. While evictions are down, other metrics of housing insecurity are up. A recent Census Bureau survey found that an estimated one third of U.S. renters expected to miss their August rent payment. Most housing advocates say that it’s only a matter of time until evictions follow.” 

Could a federal child allowance finally be close to reality? Jason DeParle of the New York Times writes that given the magnitude of the harm being done by the coronavirus pandemic to children, particularly, those in families with low incomes, the child allowance long championed by many academics and economists could become a realistic possibility. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden “…hasn’t expressed a view,” DeParle writes. “But if a blue wave prevails in November, it’s possible to imagine a Democratic Congress giving him the chance to start his presidency by lifting four million children out of poverty with a stroke of his pen.” 

The Trump administration’s ‘public charge’ rule and COVID-19  Bad policy at the worst time: As immigrant communities continue to suffer disproportionately from the pandemic, STAT writes that a policy move by the administration made matters worse. “The Trump administration has enacted policies making the spread of COVID-19 in immigrant communities even more likely. On January 27, 2020 — just one week after the U.S. confirmed its first case of COVID-19 — the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to begin implementing a new rule related to the “public charge” immigration policy. This rule determines the factors that can be used to deny immigrants permanent residency status (generally known as green cards). The administration’s new rule added the use of public programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and subsidized housing — in addition to overall health status — to the reasons for denying an immigrant a green card. This policy may cause immigrant families to avoid seeking medical care during the pandemic.” 

Pandemic’s toll on people of color is worse than feared: New data shows deaths from all causes — COVID-19 and otherwise — have gone up 9% among white Americans, but more than 30% in communities of color. 

People of color needed in vaccine trials:
NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to Renee Mahaffey Harris, president of the Center for Closing the Health Gap, about why Blacks and Latinos are not well represented in clinical vaccine trials

Another COVID-19 inequity — Those who can afford to stay in place and those who can’t: From the Los Angeles Times: “Five months into the pandemic, the coronavirus has preyed upon the fault lines of American society to expand inequities. Economic fallout hits poorer Californians hardest, and infection and death rates among Latino and Black communities tower over those in white communities, where more have the means to stay home. A remarkable role reversal in mobility emerges as a product and producer of that growing disparity.” 

Trump is going to war on low-income housing in the suburbs. He once supported it: Politico reports that while President Trump continues to warn that Joe Biden would bring chaos to the suburbs by promoting affordable housing, the administration supported that same goal just a year ago. “Yet just a year ago, the Trump administration itself embraced a plan to use the federal government to push local governments, including in suburban areas, to overhaul zoning rules that prevent the construction of high-density apartment buildings. That plan was intended to address the increasing shortage of affordable housing for Americans that has spurred homelessness and sent home prices skyrocketing.” 

A collision of crises  California’s Central Valley suffers searing heat, smoke and virus outbreaks: Californians, particularly people with serious health conditions, are caught in a collision of crises: Fires are churning out dangerous smoke amid a record-breaking heatwave and the relentless coronavirus pandemic. The crises are particularly acute in the Central Valley, which is a hotspot for triple-digit temperatures, billowing smoke and ash from lightning fires, unhealthy smog and rising infection rates.  

Share your story: The New York Times is asking households making less than $30,000 a year to share stories of how they are coping with the impact of the pandemic.  

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