Why California’s Lettuce Lands Are Unlikely Vaccination Leaders

The Rural Salinas and Imperial Valleys Have Succeeded in Reaching the People the Rest of the State Can’t Inoculate

If demographics and geography really were COVID destiny, then Gonzales—a small, working-class town with a young, overwhelmingly Latino population in rural California—would be a pandemic disaster.

Instead, Gonzales is among California’s most vaccinated places. In this Salinas Valley town of 9,000, where fewer than 10 percent of adults have a college degree, 98 percent of eligible residents have received at least one dose.

Readers of this column know that Gonzales is often an outlier of excellence among California communities. But in this case, it’s part of a larger, unexpected success story around …