Getting coronavirus information proves difficult for non-English speakers in Central Florida

State representative wants to see more communities served

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With news conferences happening daily, and elected officials giving vital information on COVID-19, some leaders are asking for that information to be given in other languages to serve more in the community.

State Rep. Amy Mercado, who represents a large portion of Orange County, said it’s not just the Hispanic community that’s not receiving information; she said she has significant Portuguese and Creole communities in her district, as well.

[RELATED: Falta de información para comunidades minoritarias del centro de la Florida]

“It’s incredibly important to ensure that we’re disseminating information in real time, equitably,” Mercado said.

Mercado said, right now, the problem with some of the translations is that they aren’t always accurate, especially when the translator is relying on a program to do the work.

The other issue Mercado points out is when there’s a delay in getting a translation to other communities, it sometimes means people are losing out on opportunities that are first-come, first-served.

She mentioned this in relation to testing and small business loans.

“There was a specific amount of loans, just that amount, and those that applied first, were the first ones to get it, and everybody else was basically just left in the wind,” Mercado said.

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said Hispanic business owners have been impacted by the lack of information.

The president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Gaby Ortigoni, said they’ve been doing as much as they can to pass information along, and have also hosted over 25 webinars on different topics such as loan preparation, cyber security and even mental health for employees.

But she said they’d like to see the Hispanic community better served by officials as well.

“Make sure that every time they deliver some type of information, that that information is also included in Spanish as well,” Ortigoni said.

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