Clarifying COVID: How Are COVID-19 Community Coordinators Tackling Language Barriers?

Each week, we’re asking experts questions about COVID-19 developments. This week, we’re checking back in with COVID-19 Community Coordinators about the efforts of getting COVID-19 resources and vaccinations to diverse communities around Minnesota.

Video Transcript

- Each week, we're asking experts questions about COVID-19 developments. This week, we're checking in with COVID-19 community coordinators about the efforts to get vaccine information to diverse communities around Minnesota.


How are COVID-19 community coordinators helping Minnesota's diverse communities access the vaccine?

MARY XIONG: Our focus is to center community in our work. So that means prioritizing our focus communities, people who are a high risk of being severely ill from COVID. Some of our strategy include connecting them with federal retail pharmacies, with our small, local pharmacies as well, and also to some states that are the permanent site that we have for testing and also for vaccination.

- How are CCCs addressing language barriers?

NANCY LEE: There are staff that are dedicated to arranging for interpreter services in 20 or more languages, as well as for American Sign Language, for the testing and vaccine sites. The governor's-- any of his announcements are now being simultaneously translated into several languages. So I think, overall, the question of language barriers is being addressed in so many different ways. It's really great to see.

- How do CCCs get feedback from communities?

NANCY LEE: Well, definitely, the CCCs hold town halls, listening sessions. MBH also has a vaccine outreach program that has speakers, and so anyone in the community can ask to have a speaker. And generally, it's an online event, and they ask questions, they give comments. So there are a number of different ways in which information is brought back so that it can be integrated into the planning that's being done.

- What are some lessons learned a year into the pandemic?

NANCY LEE: I think one of the biggest lessons is that-- we've learned is that everyone needs to work outside of their silos. We are also recognizing the intersectionality of everyone. The CCCs, they recognize that there are BIPOC persons within the disability community, LGBTQ persons across all ethnicities. So we are cross-referring to each other and working in a very collaborative way, working collaboratively with local public health, with community clinics, and with other community-based organizations. So not being so set in our ways that we can't open up our doors to other possibilities I think is an important thing that we're recognizing more and more.