Across the country, Latino communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Washoe County officials recently launched an outreach program to more effectively communicate with the Spanish-speaking community.
KUNR’s Natalie Van Hoozer spoke with Ivet Contreras, who’s involved with this campaign and says she’s basing her strategy on an understanding of the Latino culture.
Natalie Van Hoozer: Would you mind talking a little bit about the different campaigns, the English one and the Spanish one? Why have two campaigns? What’s the difference?
Ivet Contreras: The City of Reno, the City of Sparks and Washoe County have come together to put forward this campaign. “Pongamos de Nuestra Parte” means “Let’s do our part,” and that is acknowledging, in our view, our collective Latino values and tendencies. The only thing that basically unites the English and Spanish campaigns is the branding and the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to reduce the spread of the virus, but the way that we get there is different.
Van Hoozer: So how is it different?
Contreras: Traditionally what we’ve seen when there are campaigns on any topic, usually the Spanish campaign is an extension of the English campaign. It’s just a translation. That’s not effective because what’s really important is that your content is customized to Latinos. Out of the respect for the Latino community, it needs to have its own identity. It’s also about building on the Latino cultural strengths, which is about “familia” and “family,” and acknowledging that a lot of Latinos are also on the front lines of this pandemic.
Van Hoozer: Talking about the outreach needed for a campaign like this, how are you able to reach the Latino community more effectively? What do you think works?
Contreras: Our objective with this campaign is to reach Latinos in a meaningful, grassroots campaign that really understands the generational differences and backgrounds of the local Latino community, and it meets Latinos where they are. We’re trying our best to continue that community outreach in a way where it’s safe. That’s why we’re leveraging our relationships with people in the community — Latino figures, Latinos role models, Latino leaders — that have won the trust of the community.
One thing we’re working on right now relates to how important face-to-face, personal touch is in the Latino community. COVID-19 has really made things more difficult because that is how the Latino community communicates, face-to-face. That’s how you earn trust, how you communicate information. We’re trying to do this in the best way that we can during COVID-19. We created flyers and are going to areas that have high populations of Latinos who visit.
Van Hoozer: What’s the scope of the campaign. Will it continue beyond the holidays?
Contreras: This will continue. COVID-19 is changing rapidly, and so does our messaging and our focus. We’ve created a campaign that will change as everything changes. It’s something that I’m very passionate about because I am part of the Latino community. Ever since I was five or six years old, I’ve always seen a disconnect between the information in English and in Spanish. For me, this is something that, since I was little, I’ve seen how information wasn’t getting to my community. We really hope that we continue to build upon this.
This story was shared with Noticiero Móvil as part of our partnership with KUNR Public Radio. It was reported by Natalie Van Hoozer and originally published on Dec. 8, 2020.