Advocates Call For COVID-19 Resources In Spanish, Other Languages

 1525978618 
1585754017
University of Alabama at Birmingham

UAB Hospital has a page dedicated to information in Spanish about the coronavirus.

The COVID-19 crisis is having a big impact on the Latino population.

“This situation is hitting our community like a bombshell,” says Isabel Rubio, executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA). 

The advocacy group for Latino and immigrant families has seen a recent spike in phone calls from worried residents. 

“The biggest issue that we face in Alabama is that a lot of the information, whether it’s the around economy or health, is mostly all in English,” says Carlos Aleman, HICA’s deputy director.

Statewide, more than 200,000 people speak a language other than English at home, most commonly Spanish. Aleman says everyone, regardless of their English proficiency, needs access to information about the coronavirus. He says state and local officials need to do a better job communicating with people who do not speak English.

HICA, along with several other advocacy groups, recently asked the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and Gov. Kay Ivey to provide an information hotline about COVID-19 in different languages.

“Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and we believe the State of Alabama has an obligation to provide this information to prevent further spread of the virus,” said Allison Hamilton, interim executive director of Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ).

Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice

ACIJ published this infographic addressing concerns for immigrant families who may need to seek medical attention but do not have health insurance or legal immigration status.

In a statement, officials with ADPH say they have a contract with an interpretation service to assist non-English speakers who call the COVID-19 hotline. The department’s website has a page with information in Spanish, though it does not contain any materials related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

UAB Hospital has posted bilingual information about COVID-19 on its website, and Aleman says HICA is doing what it can to fill in the gaps locally. The group has translated public health orders issued by the Jefferson County Department of Health. It also recently helped interpret for Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin during a virtual question and answer session.

In addition to the language barrier faced by many immigrants, there are extra concerns for those who are undocumented and ineligible for health insurance. 

Local health officials say these factors do not prevent someone from getting tested for the virus.

“The Jefferson County Department of Health has partnered with the University of Alabama at Birmingham to cover the cost of testing for COVID-19 for those who are without insurance or those who are undocumented,” officials said in a statement. “The testing would occur at the UAB drive through after a person has called and made an appointment.”

Aleman says an even bigger concern is the long-term economic impact of this crisis.

“Our community is particularly vulnerable, because a lot of their jobs are the first to go,” he says. 

With many restaurants closed and construction delayed, lots of people are out of work these days. But Aleman says undocumented immigrants typically do not qualify for financial help from the government, even if they pay taxes.

 

More Coronavirus Coverage

Hack Exposes Vulnerability Of America’s Energy Supply Lines

Colonial Pipeline’s shutdown of its 5,500-mile pipeline Friday after a ransomware attack. But this is not the first time the public’s attention has been turned to the things that can go wrong with the energy supply.

Legislative Wrap-Up: Medical Marijuana And Yoga Bills Pass, Gambling Bill Stalls

A medical marijuana bill goes to the governor. Meanwhile a gambling bill looks unlikely to pass this session.

Alabama Legislature Drops Resistance, OKs Medical Marijuana

The bill faced strong resistance among House lawmakers.

WBHM Wins Four Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards

Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM has won four regional Edward R. Murrow awards, including the award for Overall Excellence. WBHM also won awards in these categories: Continuing Coverage – The pandemic rages through Alabama, WBHM News Team Excellence in Sound – “Through The Intercom, Nursing Home Employee Sings To Residents” by Mary Scott Hodgin Hard […]

New Orleans’ Return To Cultural Parades Is A Step Toward Healing In The South

In April, Mardi Gras Indians held a funeral and parade for one of their own – one of a few large cultural events to occur since the pandemic started and most large events in the region were canceled.

Fentanyl Overdose Deaths Increase 100% In Jefferson County

The powerful synthetic opioid is now being mixed with drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, leading to more overdose deaths.

More Coronavirus Coverage