Pandemic at the Border

Photographed for HuffPost.

Residents of Arivaca in southern Arizona are fighting to save migrants’ lives — and scrambling to protect their own — as the coronavirus sweeps the nation.

Jamie Bauer, a 69-year-old retiree who volunteers at the humanitarian aid office for migrants in town, stands for a portrait at her home.

An anti-border militia sign sits aside the humanitarian aid office.

The People Helping People humanitarian aid office is empty at sunset in Arivaca, Arizona, a town of just 700. At 11 miles north of the U.S. border with Mexico, the town is a stop for some migrants in need of help.

The sign for Arivaca's only medical clinic marks a junction at the end of town. Reporter Hayley Miller writes, "If an outbreak did occur in Arivaca, it could have disastrous consequences. Many residents don’t have health insurance. There’s one health clinic in town with one doctor who sees patients three days a week. The closest hospital is about 45 minutes away.

Ken Buchanan, the unofficial mayor, sits for a portrait in his truck, across from his regular hang-out, La Gitana Cantina.  He says he's never seen U.S. Border Patrol officers wearing masks or gloves and feels they don't care about migrants' lives.

La Gitana Cantina, one of few restaurants on the main stretch of town, sits empty. Much like other food and drink establishments during the pandemic, the restaurant is only serving takeout food.

U.S. Border Patrol trucks sit parked on the main road. An omnipresent force in town, they frequently drive through.

Dan Kelly, a 74-year-old retiree with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sits for a portrait at his home. Kelly has made close to 150 masks for fellow residents as part of a community task force responding to the pandemic.

Shadows are cast midday on the mercantile, the only grocery store in town. The task force also organizes shopping trips to pick up medication and provisions for older residents.

Kelly greets his horses in their corral as the sun sets.

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