WHAT: As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Johns Hopkins Medicine has launched a new Spanish-language COVID-19 resources portal. This one-stop shop for information in Spanish offers COVID-19 testing sites, information about telemedicine and communicating with health care providers, social distancing tips and resources for children, among other helpful links. The mobile-friendly portal serves community members, patients, faculty and staff members and students who need COVID-19 resources and information in Spanish.

This initiative is part of Juntos Contra COVID-19 (Together Against COVID-19), a wider public health campaign to educate the Latino community about the impact and seriousness of COVID-19, encourage prevention, testing and treatment, and provide guidance for employers on steps to take if employees test positive. The campaign provides educational materials ready to print or to share on social media channels.

WHY: Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring long-standing health and social inequities. According to a recent Johns Hopkins Medicine study, the coronavirus positivity rate among Latino populations is about three times higher than among any other racial or ethnic group. Latino patients with COVID-19 are often immigrants with limited English proficiency. Many work in low-wage essential jobs like construction and cleaning, and they may not have health insurance or be eligible for benefits. Some may delay going to the hospital because of worries about medical bills or immigration status. The need to work, lack of occupational protections and regular medical care, as well as crowded living conditions may contribute to the higher rate of positive tests in the community. 

“We need to remove as many barriers to care as possible, and language is a significant barrier for many in the Latino community,” says Kathleen Page, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “The new Spanish-language portal provides critical language and culturally appropriate information and services.” Page, who has worked closely with the Latino community in Baltimore throughout the pandemic, says she hopes the portal will help engage Latino community members and encourage them to learn how to protect themselves, get tested, and seek treatment when needed.

As another outreach initiative, Johns Hopkins Medicine has offered free Spanish-language COVID-19 testing to more than 900 people in Baltimore’s Latino community. The testing is conducted at the Sacred Heart of Jesus church, which is in one of the city’s areas that are hardest hit by COVID-19.

WHERE: The Spanish-language COVID-19 resources portal, and downloadable printed and social media materials, can be found here.

WHO: Kathleen Page, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine