Resources, Efforts to Address COVID-19 Misinformation in the Latino Community

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At a time when the Latino community can easily fall victim to misinformation, local community health workers and Latino leaders are responsible for ensuring that the underserved community has access to reliable information.

COVID-19 is directly affecting Idaho’s Latino community, where nearly 13% of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino.

In 2020, the Idaho Department of Health and Wellness reported COVID-19 as the leading cause of death for the community.

As the pandemic continues, the executive director of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, Margie Gonzalez, said she wants Latinos in Idaho to be careful.

This pandemic is real,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of people believe it’s something that will pass and not affect us, but a lot of our people are dead.”

When it comes to accessing coronavirus news, Latinos are 57% more likely to use social media as their main source of information, according to Nielsen. This makes it easier for people like public leaders, celebrities and influencers to spread misinformation on platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp.

Luis Lagos, community outreach program director for the Idaho Family Medicine Residency, said the misinformation spreading on social media has a direct impact on the Latino community.

Related: Idaho Organizations Continue to Fight Misinformation Targeting Latinos

As a vulnerable community we really are, as a community of essential workers overwhelmingly we have to get going,” Lagos said. “We are the ones who are going to be in the line of fire and eventually we are going to be hit. »

Family Medicine Residency of Idaho offers immunization clinics that work directly with immigrants and farm workers.

Lagos said patients had expressed concerns about the safety of the vaccine. Some think the vaccine contains COVID-19 and makes them sick, it changes their DNA and contains long term effects.

My message to the Latino community is to get vaccinated,” Lagos said. “It’s something we hold culturally, vaccines have always existed in our countries.”

Irene Ruiz is co-founder of the nonprofit Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance.

With the ongoing pandemic, Ruiz said providing information to the community is always a needed resource.

“Even my parents have heard things that aren’t true, and I tell them, ‘No, that’s not happening,'” Ruiz said.

Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance has worked to provide reliable information to Latinos through educational webinars and videos about COVID-19, bringing bilingual doctors to answer questions people may have and dispel misconceptions.

The organization also provided people in need with money to pay their bills and organic food.

Immigrant Resource Alliance distributes organic vegetables

For us, it’s really important to support the community that brings food to our tables and does these important works,” Ruiz said.

Mexican radio stations are a crucial and reliable resource for the Latin American community in Idaho.

In the United States, 62% of Hispanics say radio is a good source of information during COVID-19, according to Nielsen.

For the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, working with radio stations has helped them reach a wider audience and provide access to reliable information.

“You have the power to call any Mexican radio station or contact your community health district to find out more,” Gonzalez said.

More than two years into the pandemic, community health workers and Latino leaders continue to ensure that the Latino community in Idaho has access to reliable information in the modern age of misinformation.

To access the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs resource page, click here

To learn more about the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance, click here


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