Excerpted with permission from City Journal
California, to some people’s way of thinking, is the most modern state in the country, if not the most cutting-edge place on earth. It’s progressive, hip, innovative—a bellwether, filled with pioneers and opinion-makers.
It’s also unique for its constant battles against biblical catastrophes—earthquakes, droughts, landslides, and floods are all part of the state’s past as well as its present, as are raging wildfires that have left large tracts in ashes. Even secular humanists might be tempted to declare the state cursed.
Now California is home to a public-health crisis. This one is no act of God, though, but rather the inevitable result of tolerating unsanitary conditions. Diseases, some bringing to mind medieval times, have returned to urban streets. Typhus, carried by infected fleas and transmitted by rats and other animals, plagues Los Angeles. Hepatitis A, spread through fecal matter, has sickened more than 1,000 people in Southern California since 2017.
A “trash and rodent nightmare” threatens downtown Los Angeles. There’s “a mountain of rotting, oozing, stinking trash” that stretches “a good 20 yards along a skid row alley,” where “rats popped their heads out of the debris like they were in a game of Whac-A-Mole.”
The garbage and disease outbreaks are closely linked. In late May, the local NBC affiliate reported that “piles of rotting garbage left uncollected by the city of Los Angeles, even after promises to clean it up, are fueling concerns about a new epidemic after last year’s record number of flea-borne typhus cases.”
Read the rest of this article at City Journal.