At Mayor Martin Walsh’s daily press briefing last Thursday. Walsh noted that in recent weeks the city has seen higher-than-average positive rates in the Latino community for COVID-19. Latinos make up 20 percent of Boston’s population, but represent 28 percent of the city’s overall COVID-19 cases.
“That inequity has grown over the course of the pandemic,” said Walsh.
To address this inequity the Mayor said the city is investing over $400,000 in a community plan to address these latest numbers among Latinos.
Walsh said the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) will receive $70,000 to boost outreach and engagement efforts to support COVID-19 testing and contract tracing. The funding will increase internal marketing and outreach capacity to work with residents in Eastie and the Health Center’s new location in the South End.
Part of the strategy, said Walsh, is to educate the Latino community on the benefits of being tested for COVID-19.
“We launched the COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force early on this public health emergency to help us identify actions to address these disparities and I am pleased that through the Boston Resiliency Fund we are able to make significant investments in organizations that will expand needed outreach, education, and testing throughout our communities that have been disproportionately impacted by this virus,” said Walsh.
At the press conference, Walsh said he was keen to do this work through grassroots organizations like EBNHC that have long-standing, authentic relationships in the communities they work with every day.
“That’s been a core strategy of the Resiliency Fund and the Health Inequities Task Force,” said Walsh.
As part of outreach, Walsh said grant money will provide direct support services to the Latino community. Bilingual Youth Outreach Workers will be hired directly from communities to work collaboratively with health care providers from EBNHC.
In Eastie, these Youth Outreach Workers will provide linguistically and culturally competent support to the Latino community. These outreach workers will help elevate care for mental and physical health, fill any gap in resources created by language or cultural barriers, and connect families to food, housing vouchers and direct financial help.
At the press conference, the Mayor asked Rev. Sam Acevedo, a member of the Health Inequities Task Force, to speak more about the testing grants and testing access plan.
Rev. Acevedo said the Latino members on the Task Force have seen firsthand that many families in Eastie have been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 but are worried about getting tested. Re. Acevedo said this is due to their immigrant status, language barriers, or lack of health insurance or a health care provider.
Rev. Acevedo noted that with these new funds the Greater Boston Latino Network (GBLN) will continue to provide the expanded resources needed due to the pandemic. They will also work with the EBNHC to strengthen the work they are doing with the Latino community.
This will include a creation and launch of a bilingual marketing campaign by the GBLN that will engage youth, alongside artists, educators, musicians and other influencers who will help us spread public health messages, to wear masks and provide masks to their peers.
The Boston Resiliency Fund serves every neighborhood in Boston, but has focused on the neighborhoods hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the creation of the fund in March, the fund has granted over $23.7 million to 306 nonprofit and local organizations to provide support to Boston residents most impacted by COVID-19.