COVID-19 and the Movement of People Along the US-Mexico Border - A Case Study of Imperial County, California

Mayo, Tyler
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This qualitative study examines how the movement of people along the US-Mexico border impacts the spread of COVID-19 in a border community, Imperial County, California. The research question proposed in this study investigates the following: what can local government in Imperial County do to effectively address the region’s high COVID-19 infection rates, and better protect the health and safety of the community? The methodology used in this research was one-on-one interviews. Through purposeful and snowball sampling, ten individuals representing the public health, agriculture, and local/state government sectors participated in this study. The selection criteria for the participants was based upon their roles, experiences, and knowledge of the community in relation to COVID-19 and the border. Data collected from the interviews was coded and grouped into community-based themes using grounded theory approach. Four major themes that represented the relationship between the border and COVID-19 were identified: the border matters, social osmosis, metropolitan effects on rural population, and misinformation through politics. The study results indicate a strong community capital framework shared between both the Imperial County and Mexicali, Mexico. The shared framework between both communities influences the movement of people, which creates challenges at the local government level in regards to containing the spread of COVID-19. The results indicate a need for better communication strategies about public health and additional resource allocation for border communities at the local government level.

COVID-19, Imperial County, US-Mexico Border, Community Development