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Mendota Mayor Fears COVID-19 Case Numbers Are Higher Than Officials Say

Mendota currently has 8 confirmed cases of the coronavirus but Mayor Rolando Castro says he thinks the number is higher.

Rural farm towns like Mendota are home to large populations of undocumented people. Many of those undocumented residents think getting tested will lead to other problems, Castro says. 

“They’re worried because of their legal status, that they’re undocumented, so they don’t want to get tested because they think that they’re going to be held by ICE or held by somebody and be deported,” said Castro.  

Castro says a lot of people in the town get their information off social media which he says can be misleading. Community activist Ofelia Ochoa agreed.  

“I dropped off masks to a family that was too scared to even walk outside, which I understand. But that fear they have can easily be calmed with access to the right resources,” said Ochoa. 

Ochoa and two of her friends are trying to fight the misinformation by providing facts about testing. They‘re also making and delivering masks and lunch bags to residents. Still, Ochoa wishes there were more community organizations to help people understand the importance of getting tested. 

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.