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Hispanic Democrats demand funding for multilingual coronavirus messaging

Hispanic Democrats demand funding for multilingual coronavirus messaging
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A group of Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) members asked Monday for Congress to fund coronavirus-response messaging in languages other than English.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders of both parties, the members asked "that any further legislation include robust funding for the development and dissemination of all official public health information, announcements, and proclamations in multiple languages on radio and television networks."

"Over the past several days, we have learned that our non-English speaking constituents have had limited access to reliable information concerning the COVID-19 response, including official documents, announcements and proclamations from local, state, and federal officials," the members wrote to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP blocks Schumer effort to adjourn Senate until after election GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerTrump to lift Sudan terror sponsor designation Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts The 2016 and 2020 Senate votes are about the same thing: constitutionalist judges MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Calif.).

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"The lack of information and prevalence of disinformation have demonstrated the urgent need for announcements to be disseminated effectively and in a multi-lingual way," they added.

The letter was signed by Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Jesús García (Ill.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M), Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezDemocrats call for IRS to review tax-exempt status of NRA Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants MORE (Calif.), Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden builds big lead in battleground Florida Texas Democrat proposes COVID-19 victims' compensation fund MORE (Texas), Norma TorresNorma Judith TorresIt's past time to be rid of the legacy of Jesse Helms Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's latest plan on racial inequality MORE (Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellHouse Democrats target Hispanic voters in battlegrounds with new barrage of ads Disinformation, QAnon efforts targeting Latino voters ramp up ahead of presidential election Florida Democrat asks FBI to investigate anti-Semitic, racist disinformation MORE (Fla.), Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs MORE (Texas), Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoRadiation elevated at fracking sites, researchers find Hopes for DC, Puerto Rico statehood rise Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum MORE (Fla.), Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoLeadership matters: President's words and actions show he is unfit to lead our nation Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump's Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy House Democrat optimistic defense bill will block Trump's Germany withdrawal MORE (Ariz.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarPocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Trump's illness sparks new urgency for COVID-19 deal Hispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 MORE (Texas), Raul RuizRaul RuizHispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Jon Stewart urges Congress to help veterans exposed to burn pits House Democrat who's a physician calls on Trump to 'man up' and wear mask MORE (Calif.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.), and Grace NapolitanoGraciela (Grace) Flores NapolitanoWe can't ignore COVID-19's impact on youth mental health Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs MORE (Calif.).

The response to the coronavirus crisis, and its accompanying public service announcements, has for the most part been delivered in English by the federal government, despite the around 25 million Americans who are not proficient in the English language.

"In the absence of medical treatments or vaccines, we know that one of the few means to halt the spread of the virus is through preventive actions by the public," wrote the CHC members.

"Therefore, local, state, and federal public officials must communicate clear and concise messages that are targeted to local audiences, available in the media they regularly utilize, and in the languages they primarily speak at home," they added.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information is available online in Spanish and Simplified Chinese, but on a more limited basis than English-language information.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a language action plan that includes 19 widely-spoken languages, but it has not yet been fully activated to deal with the coronavirus response.

And non-English-language messaging has been slow to reach the communities it targets, increasing the chances of contagion among those populations.

In one case, the CHC's campaign arm, Bold PAC, made a federal one-page information sheet available in Spanish before the federal government published its own translation, a day after publishing the original in English.

In their letter, the CHC members ask for funding to be included not only to translate the materials, but to make them available through media consumed regularly by language-diverse populations.

"Reaching our non-English speaking communities will enable us to more effectively curb the spread of this virus," wrote the members.