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Baltimore City launches initiative to help LatinX Families impacted by COVID-19

Posted at 4:30 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 17:08:33-05

BALTIMORE — Baltimore officials, including Mayor Brandon Scott, announced a new initiative to help Latinx families in the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's called 'The COVID-19: Prevention, Control and Support' initiative. The initiative will take a number of steps to prevent the spread of the virus among families where English is not a primary language, including enhancing bilingual messaging efforts, recruiting community members to educate their neighbors in hard-hit areas and helping connect people with health and financial resources.

“The collaboration fostered by deep, community-based partnerships will allow us to better provide services for Latino residents disproportionately impacted by COVID-19," said Mayor Scott.

"Over the last nine months, MIMA refocused its efforts to prioritize and respond to the immediate needs of immigrants impacted by COVID-19. Our work would not have been possible without the partnership and support of city and state agencies, the philanthropic community, immigrant serving organizations, faith-based groups and community stakeholders assisting our most vulnerable families,” said Catalina Rodriguez Lima, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “The Prevention, Control and Support initiative will allow us to increase our capacity to better serve Latinos impacted by the pandemic over the next year. I am grateful for the leadership and support of Mayor Scott and Dr. Dzirasa. They have taken important measures to protect the health and safety of our residents impacted by the pandemic.”

COVID-19 cases are disproportionately higher in Latinx communities, making up 15% of total cases but only 5% of the city’s population, city officials said.

The COVID-19: Prevención, Control y Respaldo (COVID-19: Prevention, Control, and Support) strategy includes the following:

  • Prevention: The City of Baltimore will partner with CASA to enhance bilingual and bicultural public messaging and in-person outreach to educate Limited English Proficient Latinos about how to prevent the virus, where to get tested, and where to isolate, while debunking myths that prevent this community from seeking help. Furthermore, community messengers will educate residents about the importance of getting vaccinated when a vaccine becomes available. Under this phase of the initiative, CASA will recruit trusted community members who live in the community to serve as credible community messengers, or Promotores/as. Their role as Promotores/as will be to educate the neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19 to prevent the spread, while guiding community members to trusted sources of information and resources.
  • Control: The Health Department will support the initiative through a collaborative effort to ensure community COVID testing remains accessible to the Latino community. The Health Department is also partnering to make available a cadre of linguistically and culturally competent contact tracers as part of the Baltimore Health Corps program. Bilingual contact tracers will refer residents to Resource Navigators to increase the ability to engage people who have tested positive or are contacts of known cases, and offer existing resources to ensure effective quarantine or isolation. Effective contract tracing will help reduce the spread of infection. Finally, the Health Department will continue to promote the city’s Tri Center to ensure Latino residents regardless of immigrant status can safely isolate.
  • Support: The City of Baltimore will partner with Catholic Charities Esperanza Center to staff a set of Resource Navigators to help residents excluded from public benefits and with a positive test locate services and resources to help them and their families through the isolation process and beyond. Resource Navigators will be trained in navigating different government systems and will be knowledgeable about eligibility criteria based on immigrant status. Finally, Resource Navigators will be able to apply to MIMA’s Emergency Relief for Immigrant Families (ERIF) program on behalf of eligible families to minimize financial pressure to continue working despite health risks.

The overall management and direction of the initiative will be the responsibility of the Baltimore City Health Department and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, with each community-based partner providing guidance and implementation oversight.