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Santa Fe Hosts COVID-19 Drive-through Testing for Immigrants, Families

New Mexico has 60,000 undocumented immigrants, and the lack of federal COVID-19 financial assistance offered them will lead to a loss in the state's economic activity, according to New Mexico Voices for Children. (NMSU/Josh Bachman)
New Mexico has 60,000 undocumented immigrants, and the lack of federal COVID-19 financial assistance offered them will lead to a loss in the state's economic activity, according to New Mexico Voices for Children. (NMSU/Josh Bachman)
September 11, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico's immigrant population largely has been left out of federal coronavirus-relief programs, but testing for the virus will be offered free of charge Saturday in Santa Fe.

It's the third event sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Health and several local organizations including Somos Un Pueblo Unido. Executive Director Marcela Díaz said the COVID-19 drive-through testing is aimed at reaching essential workers who are immigrants, and their families.

"We do it in communities where there are a lot of risk factors," she said, "particularly when it comes to health disparities for Latinos, immigrants, essential workers."

Díaz said local and state support for New Mexico families is critical because undocumented immigrants and most mixed-status families have been denied federal assistance in the pandemic, including stimulus funds and unemployment. She called that "tragic," noting it has slowed economic recovery in some communities.

The event is to begin at 10 a.m. at the Nina Otero Community School parking lot, 5901 Herrera St.

Díaz said New Mexico's essential workers are key to the school system, as food service and farm workers, the health-care and construction fields, and the economy in general. She noted that those who participate in Saturday's free and confidential COVID testing event will also be offered to-go meals and food boxes.

"We really do try to use it to make it a community event," she said, "obviously socially-distanced -- everyone's masked, and we're delivering this information and the food boxes and the to-go meal through the car doors."

Díaz said symptoms of the coronavirus are not necessary to get the test, and bilingual health department staff will be available to answer questions.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM