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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 PelosiHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Budget Committee chair pledges to raise minimum wage: 'Hold me to it' Capitol review to recommend adding more fencing, 1,000 officers: report MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Hawley gets boisterous ovation at CPAC for Electoral College objection   Why Congress must invoke the 14th Amendment now MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill Budowsky: Cruz goes to Cancun, AOC goes to Texas MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Trump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars McCarthy: No commitment from Trump to not target Republicans 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 GomezSix ways to visualize a divided America Robert F. Kennedy Jr. anti-vaccine posts test tech crackdown pledge Democrats blast Facebook over anti-vaccine pages MORE (Calif.), Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaLobbying world COVID-19 is wild card as Pelosi faces tricky Speaker vote Sunday Democrats try to draft Cardenas to run campaign arm after disappointing night MORE (Texas), Norma TorresNorma Judith TorresDemocrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help It'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 MORE (Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellTrump, Florida complicate Biden approach to Cuba The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread The Memo: Democrats see warning signs beyond 2020 MORE (Fla.), Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaBiden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (Texas), Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoPuerto Rico governor: Congress 'morally obligated' to act on statehood vote Puerto Rico officials hopeful of progress on statehood ER doctor chosen to lead Hispanic Caucus MORE (Fla.), Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoMore than 0K raised for Ohio mom arrested for leaving kids alone at motel to work GoFundMe set up for mother arrested after leaving kids alone while at work GOP Arizona rep urges vaccine priority for 'people that are here legally' MORE (Ariz.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarEl Paso shooting survivor deported to Mexico after traffic stop House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics MORE (Texas), Raul RuizRaul RuizOvernight Energy: Biden faces calls to shut down Dakota Access pipeline | Hackers breach, attempt to poison Florida city's water supply | Daines seeks to block Haaland confirmation to Interior Biden faces calls to shut down Dakota Access pipeline The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' MORE (Calif.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.), and Grace NapolitanoGraciela (Grace) Flores NapolitanoTrump signs bill authorizing memorial to fallen journalists We can't ignore COVID-19's impact on youth mental health Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants 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.