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Metro leaders work to break language barriers in COVID-19 fight with Spanish translator

Metro’s COVID-19 briefing features Spanish translator for first time
Posted at 9:02 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 23:47:42-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It was a first of its kind for Mayor John Cooper’s COVID-19 press briefings.

“I said ‘wow, we’re going to do this in Spanish- this is amazing',” said Program Manager for The Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College, Dr. Virginia Debermudez.

She provided a Spanish translation encouraging Latinos to get vaccinated against the virus at the press conference.

“We just felt like this was a good time because of a lot that’s going on. Even though we have limited numbers of vaccine, we do know that we need to continue to look at ways that we’re going to reach all areas of Davidson County,” said Metro Public Health Department spokesperson, Brian Todd.

He said it's part of what's called the city’s "At-Risk Nashvillian Plan" which includes working with trusted Latino community members to deliver information in Spanish. “We really have had some great experience in working with the at-risk community on how to reach and connect with folks that English isn’t their native language,” said Todd.

Dr. Debermudez said, "the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed- it has revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color and has amplified social and economic factors that contributed to poor health outcomes.” Inequities that she believes can be addressed by getting Latinos proper resources. “We are not having enough people. Like I was saying before, we need bilingual professional people,” she said.

As the city begins to ramp up vaccination efforts, Debermudez hopes her services will be utilized more. “So embracing the Latino community and giving them a message in their language is a great step forward,” she said.

It's worth noting Metro Nashville does provide a weekly COVID update in Spanish on Metro's Youtube channel. You can watch them here.