Dallas County

Task Force Spreads ‘More Direct' Message to Hispanic Community in Fight Against COVID-19

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The latest data in Dallas County shows 53% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are Hispanic, according to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.

And when it comes to the 881 COVID-19-related deaths reported through Tuesday, 45% are Hispanic.

A new effort aims to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the hard-hit community.

Winning the battle against COVID-19 among Latinos in North Texas is requiring a change in strategy.

“Maybe the message was slower to be received to the Latino community,” said Prisma Garcia. “Especially the Spanish-speaking community.”

Garcia is a member of the county’s Latino COVID-19 task force now known as La Alianza DFW.

The alliance group said focus groups revealed previous safety tips and information disseminated by local leaders and health officials did not fully connect with local Latinos.

“We were told by some of our families in the focus group sometimes it was like, 'What does this word mean? Why don’t they just tell me exactly what to do?'" Garcia said.

So the alliance is reaching local groups and efforts like the U.S. Census count to spread a clear message.

“Very short, in Spanish for the most part,” she said. “But also utilizing very direct language.”

Bilingual handouts include information about COVID-19, symptoms to look for, how to get tested and tips for isolating at home.

The group also understands many Latinos are essential workers.

“We know you can’t stay home because you have to work but here’s what you can do,” Garcia said.

While there are many factors believed to be attributed to the large number of COVID-19 cases among Hispanics, Garcia acknowledges the family-oriented community continues to hold family gatherings despite the pandemic.

“We’ve had Mother’s Day, we had different holidays and I think it’s very cultural to want to get together to have people hug, even kiss,” she said. “Maybe it’s the recommendation to have it [gatherings] outdoors, to have 6 feet away.”

Garcia said it’s also important to translate social distancing into the metric system.

Lesly Cardona is sharing the new information with her support group for fellow cancer patients and survivors in Irving.

Several members have contracted the virus and at least one ended up in the hospital.

“They’ve told me it’s easier for us to understand the new information,” Cardona in Spanish said.

Garcia said the alliance hoped to reach other cities and counties with educational information.

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