Harder Launches Latino Covid-19 Emergency Task Force

July 17, 2020
Press Release
Task Force to Focus on Addressing Disproportionate Virus Rates Among Latino Community

Approximately Seventy Percent of Positive Cases in Harder’s District are Latino

Modesto, CA – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) today announced the formation of the Latino Covid-19 Emergency Task Force to address the disproportionate positivity rate and fatalities among the Latino community in the Central Valley. The task force includes leaders from the health care, government, business, faith, and nonprofit communities. The task force aims to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in the Latino community by identifying the causes of the disproportionate spread of the virus within the Latino community and taking targeted steps to address them. The first meeting of the task force focused on the lack of Spanish language educational materials, the need to involve more well-known community leaders in messaging efforts, and the distrust that exists between some members of the community and government agencies. The task force has developed preliminary recommendations to address all of these issues.

“Latinos make up less than half of the population of my district but account for almost three-quarters of those infected,” said Rep. Harder. “There are tangible steps we can take to lessen the impact on the Latino community here in the Valley and I’m looking to the experts in those communities to learn how I can be helpful. We need to improve the information getting to Latino households, protect frontline workers, and address some of the distrust in the community when it comes to the government. We’re taking steps to meet all of these challenges.”

The task force has identified a lack of clear messaging directed specifically at Latino households and other concerns as contributing factors. Others include:

  • Some families are suspicious of providing information or speaking with government agencies
  • Lack of educational and public health materials in Spanish
  • Lack of PPE masks, hand-sanitizer and other protective materials
  • Lack of information about employer responsibilities including mandatory sick leave
  • Increased need for immigration legal assistance and education and outreach

Because of these issues, the task force has developed several recommendations, including:

  • Taking deliberate steps to disseminate culturally-relevant information, including from county agencies
  • Involving more trusted Latino Community members to serve as messengers
  • Focusing on educating farmworkers and providing PPE
  • Improving systems and access to testing for the Latino Community
  • Working alongside community-based organizations, Latino-owned small businesses, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to provide training and educational programs
  • Using video stories from individuals who have had the virus 
  • Collaborating with churches with large numbers of Spanish-Speaking members to disseminate information 
  • Involving public schools in culturally-relevant virus education

Doctor Perfecto P. Muñoz is serving as the chair of the task force. Dr. Muñoz currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Modesto Community Collaborative. He previously served as a senior analyst at the California Program on Access to Care (CPAC) and UC Berkeley School of Public Health. The task force also includes representatives from West Modesto Community Collaborative, City Ministries Network, El Concilio, the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the San Joaquin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Golden Valley Health Centers, and others to convene partners from the faith, business, nonprofit, and media spheres.