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Some Indy Spanish-speakers want more coronavirus outreach, information in Spanish

Many Indianapolis residents who only speak Spanish say there is not a lot of information on coronavirus.
(Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Many Indianapolis residents who only speak Spanish say there is not a lot of information on coronavirus.

The Indiana Latino Institute said that's a problem. Indiana is home to the 21st-largest Hispanic population in America according to Pew Research Center. Latinos make up the second-largest ethnic group — after blacks — in both Indiana and Indianapolis according to the most recent census.

"We are only as protected as our neighbors are," said Berenice Tenorio, outreach specialist with Indiana Latino Institute (ILI).

"There are gaps in various areas where people need support," Tenorio said. "I haven't seen much of the (city or state government's coronavirus) information being translated and put into Spanish on their social media or website."

The coronavirus community resource page on Indy.gov is available in Spanish, and the Marion County Public Health Department has a coronavirus FAQ page in Spanish, which includes a Youtube video as well.

But Tenorio said more can be done to share this content across social media platforms, calling it a disservice to the Spanish-speaking community.

Mayor Hogsett's office issued a written statement in response:

"We are committed to ensuring every resident in Marion County has the information and resources they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we are continuing to expand the multilingual assets available online and through other City communications channels, in an effort to reach all those who call our community home.

We are grateful for the continued collaboration and partnerships of local organizations like this one and applaud their willingness to educate, engage, and support their neighbors during this difficult time."

The mayor's office also said the Indy Chamber's Rapid Response portal, directed at small businesses and impacted workers, is available in both English and Spanish. Residents without internet access can call the Mayor’s Bilingual Action Center at 317-327-4622.

The governor's office deferred to the Joint Information Center, which is handling all media requests related to COVID-19 in Indiana.

The Joint Information Center shared a link to a COVID-19 multi-language resource page. The main in.gov coronavirus page also has a Google Translate plugin, which allows the web-based app to translate the site into any of the languages available on the app.

The Joint Information Center said it would "continue to identify additional opportunities to translate information and will post it as quickly as is available."

The center provided a Dropbox link to videos of officials speaking that were available in Spanish.

Another vital resource is information published to the FSSA website created by Luna Language Services. Those resources include updates in a variety of languages and information for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Tenorio said Latino-based organization like ILI, La Plaza, Telemundo Indy and others are posting and creating their own coronavirus content in Spanish. Still, "It should be a top priority" for the city and state to do it themselves, Tenorio said.

ILI said they encourage city and state leaders to engage with Latino-based organizations to create bilingual content and said they are happy to translate posts.

When asked if ILI had reached out to leaders themselves, they said they had not, as they were focused on creating their own content but they are open to working together.

Tenorio said public officials are concerned about every individual and family in their jurisdictions, so making sure public health materials during a pandemic are available in Spanish and English should be a huge concern.

ILI Suggests Facebook as an initial target focus for bilingual messaging. It's a platform where information can easily be shared, and other organizations can also share that information on their own pages with their respective audiences, Tenorio said.