Mendota community could be seriously impacted by COVID-19 outbreak

MENDOTA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Just as cities across California adjust to the ever-changing procedures associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, rural communities like Mendota are taking cues from the county while local leaders worry what the ripple effects might have on residents.

"One case could be very drastic out here, in a town of 11,000," says Mendota Mayor Rolando Castro.

Considered the cantaloupe center of the world, Mendota is also home to a large number of farmworkers.

Mayor Castro is concerned an outbreak would threaten his town's struggling economy and a farming industry already operating on razor-thin margins.

"They have masks, they have the proper gear, they have gloves and they have glasses, so they have protection," Castro said. "It has not changed much from what we've been doing for years. Now it's a little more drastic as far as now, I need to wear it all the time and switch them all the time."

Over 40 percent of families here live in poverty.

Mendota City Councilman Joseph Riofrio was recently quoted in a New York Times article: "We don't care about the Coronavirus here."

But Mayor Castro, who also owns and operates an auto mechanic shop, says that couldn't be further from the truth.

"We should take drastic measures and prepare because this could get really serious," Castro said.

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