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Illinois Unidos, fighting disproportionate spread of COVID-19 among Latinos, publishes bilingual series of fact sheets on common COVID questions

CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Unidos, a statewide coalition of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, elected officials, and community leaders united in addressing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community in Illinois, has released a series of fact sheets on common health questions related to COVID-19 in English and Spanish. The fact sheets are available for free download at IllinoisUnidos.com, under “COVID-19 health information” at the top of the home page.

All information in these one-page documents was curated and verified by medical professionals of the coalition and visually supplemented with icons and infographics. The goal of these sheets, according to its authors, is to mitigate the information gap that has contributed to the disease’s disproportionate spread among Latinos and communities of color in Illinois.

“Basic education is the first step to stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Pamela Vergara Rodriguez, MD. “If we don’t have the necessary Spanish-language resources to communicate basic facts in simple terms, then our community cannot possibly be equipped to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbors.”

Currently, over three percent of the Latino population in Illinois has contracted COVID-19. That percentage is the highest among all racial-ethnic groups and over three times that of the state’s white population (approximately 1 percent). Experts say that one of the reasons for this disparity — alongside the Latino community’s high representation in essential jobs, low capacity to work from home, and many multigenerational homes — is a lack of linguistically and culturally sensitive resources.

With this series of fact sheets, Illinois Unidos hopes to educate both the English- and Spanish-speaking public on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and best protective measures while attacking misinformation and disinformation. Each page is titled with a common question surrounding the scientific facts of COVID, including:

  • How do I quarantine properly?
  • How do I stay safe from COVID-19 at home?
  • What is social distancing (and why is it important)?
  • When is it safe to come out of quarantine?
  • When should I get tested for COVID-19?
  • When should I go to the hospital?
  • Who is at high risk of contracting COVID-19?
  • Why and how should I wear a mask?

These fact sheets are part of a larger effort from Illinois Unidos to inform the community. “Our volunteer pool of public health experts, nurses, and physicians continue working to develop reliable, evidence-based content in English and Spanish on additional topics such as COVID19 in pregnancy and how to keep our children healthy,” said Susana Gonzalez, MHA, MSN, RN, CNML, past president of National Association of Hispanic Nurses-Illinois. 

“We have to cancel out so much misinformation, largely promoted by politicians who don’t believe in science, about who is at risk for COVID-19, how to stay safe, and what to expect if someone gets COVID. Access to reliable, bilingual information on COVID will empower our community to keep our families safe as we head into the winter months,” said Dr. Marina Del Rios, MD, MS.

Two thousand double-sided booklets containing the English and Spanish versions of these fact sheets have been printed and distributed among local health centers, senior centers, food pantries, and journalists. Additional fact sheets and plans for further distribution are currently in development.

The Initiative as a group has continued to expand and has established a bilingual (Spanish) website IllinoisUnidos.com to share our work and COVID-19 related resources with the public, particularly the Latinx community.