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Campaign aims to promote unified message, stop COVID-19 spread in N.C. Latinx community


Although Hispanic and Latinx communities represent ~9.3% of North Carolina's population, they constitute ~46% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state. Durham's El Centro Hispano is a local organization aiming to change this disparity through it's new program.

El Centro Hispano has launched the NC Unida Contra El Virus campaign alongside several North Carolina Hispanic media outlets in an effort to send a "unified message" to the North Carolina Latinx community about COVID-19.

El Centro Hispano dedicates its work to building the Hispanic and Latinx community as well as advocating for equity and inclusion for the community in the Triangle, said Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, the nonprofit's president and CEO.

She said the campaign was born after the organization recognized that different messages about the pandemic were being shared with the Latinx and Hispanic communities as the cases in those communities began to increase. 

“We thought it would be powerful and better to get together and give a unified message,” Rocha-Goldberg said. “We mostly wanted to show the community that the virus is a concern for everybody and show how everybody could get together to flatten the curve of infections.”

Rocha-Goldberg said the organization reached out to Spanish newspapers, radio stations and Univision so that they could reach the community throughout the Triangle Area and beyond.

She said it is important to give culturally appropriate information about COVID-19 that Latinx community members can understand. 

“The idea is to reach everybody in the state, so we started with the main Spanish media and have been inviting other people, media organizations and governments to participate so our messages go to all community members in the state,” Rocha-Goldberg said.

According to El Centro Hispano's website, the campaign will feature multiple digital media initiatives over the next 10 weeks. Each initiative focuses on public health recommendations related to the pandemic, such as information on facial masks and safety measures for workers in different industries.

Revista Latina NC, a digital magazine geared towards the North Carolina's Latinx community, is one of the media organizations working with El Centro Hispano to share information for the campaign.

Edgar Bernal, the director of Revista Latina NC, said the Latinx community needs more channels to get the right information, but that is just a start.

“Once they get the right information, they need more programs,“ Bernal said. "I think with this campaign, we are working on informing the community on what they can do and what they have to do. If there were more programs to refer people to, that would help to reduce the spread of the virus.”

Bernal said Revista Latina NC has recently launched a campaign encouraging people to stay home by publishing activities people can do at home. The magazine has also created a 3D gallery on its website to showcase art from local painters.

Karina Neyra, editor of Qué Pasa Noticias in Raleigh, wrote in an email that the editorial team has been working to keep readers aware of the dangers of the virus.

“We know that the numbers keep going up and we have more to do,” Neyra wrote. “It was easy to say ‘yes’ when El Centro Hispano called us to join a campaign with all the Latino media organizations to spread together the same single message.”

Neyra wrote that the newspaper’s first meeting with El Centro Hispano was on May 28, the same day Gov. Roy Cooper acknowledged at a press conference his concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on the Latinx community. 

Rocha-Goldberg said the state's Spanish media organizations have been pushing Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, for better data on how the Latinx and Hispanic community are being affected by COVID-19 throughout the state.

As of July 6, the DHHS reported that Hispanic individuals made up over 22,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. This makes up 46 percent of around 50,000 cases for which the ethnicity of the person is known. Latinx individuals make up only 9.3 percent of the state’s population.

Neyra said these disparities may stem from the fact that many Latinx individuals are essential workers, and are thereby more vulnerable to the virus. 

“We know that the Latino community is one of the most vulnerable,” Neyra said. “Many are essential workers who have had no option to stay home. They are working on factories, food plants, construction sites and on fields.”

Neyra also pointed out that hundreds of Latinx individuals do not have legal status and therefore do not have health insurance.

“Many suffer from preexisting health conditions,” Neyra said. “That is a reality that we cannot change, but we believe that if we continue pushing the right message through this campaign, someone would take action to prevent more cases and deaths in our community.”

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Rocha-Goldberg said the NC Unida Contra El Virus campaign started about two weeks ago and already has 22 organizations working with them to spread their messages about the pandemic.

She said she hopes the campaign can spread a unified and effective message about the pandemic to the Latinx community.

“Really my hope is that people receive the information they need to take care of themselves,” Rocha-Goldberg said. “We also want people to let us know what their concerns, fears and struggles are so that we can really support the community during this time.”

@DTHCityState |