For families in the far Eastern Coachella Valley, complications from coronavirus could be much more dangerous.
Rebecca Zaragoza, who grew up in Thermal and has been advocating for social and environmental justice in these unincorporated areas, said “There are other health issues that make them even more vulnerable right now with the coronavirus.”
Many children in North Shore, Mecca, Oasis, Thermal and Desert Shores suffer from bloody noses and allergies all stemming from contaminants from the Salton Sea and local epidemiologists confirm anyone with chronic lung disease is at an increased risk of COVID-19.
One of the most vulnerable groups are residents who live in poor air quality areas where a high number of them are already suffering with respiratory illnesses, like asthma.
“Disadvantaged communities and especially environmental justice communities always suffer the most,” said Zaragoza.
Local activists say underserved communities like these where the majority live in mobile homes cannot practice social distancing making precautions even harder to take. Especially for field workers who live in these areas and are still working in tighter quarters.
Zaragoza said, “The conditions of the home aren’t suited for keeping out the bad air quality that we have.”
The county doesn’t yet have a plan of action to help these communities. State legislators recommend that they need to continue proper hygiene. Congressman Raul Ruiz, from the 36th district said,“Stay at home, wash your hands as frequently as possible. and wipe down recently touched objects.”