The Washington Post reports on racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths in Chicago: “Even before the pandemic, Chicago had the widest racial life expectancy gap in the country. In the most stark illustration, residents of a predominantly white neighborhood in the north of the city live 30 years longer on average than residents of a largely black neighborhood just nine miles to the south, according to a 2019 analysis at New York University of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pandemic is also playing out along the same neighborhood border lines. Predominantly black areas with lower life expectancy rates have had the highest death tolls… Black Chicagoans are more likely to be front-line workers and less likely to have health insurance, making them more vulnerable to severe infection.”
The Los Angeles Times reports on the regional freeway system as “one of the most noxious monuments to racism and segregation in the country… Most Angelenos don’t think about it as we spew carbon monoxide across the city on our way from Point A to Point B, but our toxic exhaust fumes feed into a pot of racism that’s been stewing for nearly a century. To understand exactly how that works, you have to know what things were like here before freeways came to dominate L.A.’s landscape… When the 1944 Federal-Aid Highway Act allocated funds for 1,938 miles of freeways in California, planners used the opportunity, with full federal support, to obliterate as much as possible the casual mingling of the races. Local officials rerouted the elaborate designs of freeway engineers — often at considerable expense — to destroy thousands of homes in racially diverse communities. As detailed by Gilbert Estrada in “If You Build It, They Will Move,” mixed-race Boyle Heights was gutted by freeways. Despite a mandate to avoid parks at all costs, planners put lanes through the middle of Hollenbeck Park while spending millions to reroute around a park in the white suburb of San Dimas. Dozens of Boyle Heights homes were destroyed just to give white suburban shoppers easier freeway access to a Sears department store. Officials justified these actions as “slum clearance”— intended to upgrade the city’s supposedly crumbling housing stock. But their racially malign intent was obvious, laid bare when officials moved the Santa Monica Freeway so that it ran directly through the stately African American middle class neighborhood of Sugar Hill — anything but a slum — wiping it off the map. When L.A. communities of color rose up in protest at the destruction of these neighborhoods, they were ignored. White areas like Beverly Hills and South Pasadena, meanwhile, successfully fought off freeways planned through their neighborhoods. As noted by Estrada, only 61% of L.A.’s planned freeway network was built as a consequence. This created immediate traffic bottlenecks in the system, which have lingered to this day.”
The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to approve a proposal that would allow the city’s police department to be dismantled. “The 12-0 vote is the latest push to hold law enforcement accountable after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody on May 25. The proposal’s passage is the first step toward making the decision a ballot measure in the November general election. The proposal would replace the police department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.” The head of this department would be somebody with “non-law-enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.” The move from the council comes after massive protests in Minneapolis and across the country following Floyd’s death. Protestors have demanded widespread police reform and the defunding of the police.”
The New York Times reports on rising rates of COVID-19 infection among Latinos. “When the coronavirus first spread to the fields and food processing factories of California’s Central Valley, Graciela Ramirez’s boss announced that line workers afraid of infection could stay home without pay. A machine operator at Ruiz Foods, the nation’s largest manufacturer of frozen burritos, Ms. Ramirez stayed on the job to make sure she didn’t lose her $750-a-week wages. “I have necessities,” Ms. Ramirez, a 40-year-old mother of four, said in Spanish. “My food, my rent, my bills.” Soon her co-workers started to get sick, and when Ms. Ramirez became congested and fatigued and could not smell the difference between the rice on her stove and the sopa de fideo in her soup bowl, her test, too, came back positive. It was a variation on what has become a grim demographic theme, and not just in California. Infections among Latinos have far outpaced the rest of the nation, a testament to the makeup of the nation’s essential work force as the American epidemic has surged yet again in the last couple of weeks. Latinos in the United States are hardly a cultural monolith, and there is no evidence yet that any ethnic group is inherently more vulnerable to the virus than others. But in the last two weeks, counties across the country where at least a quarter of the population is Latino have recorded an increase of 32 percent in new cases, compared to a 15 percent increase for all other counties, a Times analysis shows.”
California air quality regulators approved the nation’s first environmental standards for electric trucks, requiring over half the trucks sold by manufacturers in the state be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. The rule sets zero-emission truck sales targets for manufacturers beginning in 2024.