“My community fears the government may try to get rid of us,” said Oralia Maceda Méndez, an attorney for a Fresno-based tribal community group in Oaxaca, Mexico. She has heard many stories from immigrants in her community treating themselves for Covid-19 with penicillin, other antibiotics, or a mixture of vitamins and herbal therapies bought in stores, or from travelers selling medicines bought in Mexico.

“I’m not surprised that people are being taken advantage of,” she said. “We don’t have the care we need”

Some farm workers have received unproven treatments in specialist clinics. A woman in Fresno recently described how her husband, a farm laborer, was so ill with Covid-19 that he could not breathe or walk but refused to go to the hospital after hearing rumors that undocumented immigrants checked in had and never left. She took him to a wellness clinic, where a doctor gave him injectable peptide treatments, the woman recalled, who requested anonymity because of her immigration status.

She said she wasn’t prepared for the $ 1,400 bill that included the cost of syringes and vials labeled Thymosin Alpha 1, BPC-157, and LL-37. When she got it out of a cupboard in the kitchen of her RV, she said she wasn’t sure what it was and she still felt the pain of the price.

“I was shocked but tried to pretend it was okay because I had to be strong for my husband and children,” she said. Despite the injections, he got sicker, but the family ran out of money to care for them. More than a month passed before he was well enough to return to the fields.

Sandra Celedon, president of a coalition of grassroots organizations called Fresno Building Health Communities, said she and her colleagues had heard of several farm workers and other low-income Latin American immigrants who spent their savings on vitamin infusions and peptide therapies against Covid. “These people are the poorest of the poor, and yet the doctors charged cash for their unproven treatments,” she said.