MARYVALE, AZ — As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Arizona, the Latino community is one of the most impacted here in the Valley.
Maryvale, with a population that is 75% Latino, is among the top five zip codes for coronavirus cases.
Concerned after hearing the statistics, Carmen Garcia, a Maryvale resident decided to get tested. She never expected to have to wait in line for nearly 14 hours.
“I almost gave up, I felt I couldn't keep up,” Garcia said in Spanish during an interview with ABC15.
Garcia was among the hundreds of people who lined up at a free COVID-19 testing event in Maryvale on Saturday, June 20. She explained that she arrived around 5 a.m. and waited until nearly 7 p.m.
“No one should have to be waiting for 12 to 13 hours inside a car in Arizona's hot temperatures. We even ran out of gas,” said Garcia.
In the first seven hours, Garcia described feeling ill as her legs started swelling from sitting down for so long. She said she had no access to food, water or a public bathroom. All that adding to the feeling she was in a nightmare.
“I didn’t want to tell my family in the car. I didn’t want to worry them,” added Garcia.
There were also people who gave up that day. Garcia talked about one man who told her he was having symptoms, but she could not afford to stay any longer.
“He needed water," said Garcia.
The same day Garcia and her family waited in line to get tested, President Trump was holding a rally in Tulsa where he stated he had asked officials to slow down the testing:
“Testing is a double edge sword; we’ve tested now 25 million people. It’s probably 20 million people more than anybody else, Germany has done a lot, South Korea has done a lot. They call me and they say the job you’re doing, here’s the bad part, when you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more people you’re going to find more cases, so I say to my people ‘slow the testing down please’.”
This message struck Garcia who asked, “What did we do to deserve this?”
Garcia said that it would be impossible to slow down testing in her community since it is almost nonexistent.
On June 22, a White House official told CNN that the president was joking.
“It’s a huge insult to even suggest this as a joke or that he would even make a joke about something like that,” said Martín Quezada, the Arizona State Senator representing the community of Maryvale.
Quezada fears these kinds of comments from the president could hurt people in his community.
“There were people in my community who were suffering heat exhaustion, dehydrated, elderly people who had to leave the line because they needed water. This is not a joke. There were people displaying symptoms and couldn’t get a test. There are people dying,” stated Quezada.
Quezada also said he had no confidence that governor Doug Ducey would address the need for testing in Arizona with president Trump during his visit Tuesday, but still he remained hopeful.
“I hope that he proves me wrong, that he sits with the president and has a serious conversation about this and comes up with a plan to address this and that he involves the rest of the legislature on that too,” said Quezada.
As for Garcia, she is thankful for having a free test, but she still fears not everyone will be willing to wait as long as she did. “It shouldn’t have to cost us 14 hours.”