Not Just in English Anymore

COVID-19 Speaks Multiple Languages

The past two years have been frustrating and difficult in the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sources of misinformation have been rampant. For those of us who are native speakers of English, accurate and reliable COVID-19 information is abundant and easily accessible. Now, imagine you speak another language and only know some basic English. Your need for information is important for your ability to work, to keep your children safe, and to understand what is happening with COVID-19. Those of us who work in the information world can help our patrons by providing access to current and reliable COVID-19 facts in other languages.

The Centers for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/) is the main provider of COVID-19 health information in the United States. The CDC has specific websites for Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese (https://wwwn.cdc.gov/pubs/other-languages?Sort=Lang%253A%253Aas). The Spanish CDC COVID-19 webpage provides information on vaccines, general COVID-19 information including on all variants, quarantine guidelines, work and school guidelines, and access to specific community levels of COVID-19 (https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html). Medline Plus offers practical advice including managing COVID-19 symptoms, caring for children if family members have COVID-19, interpreting regulatory language, and food safety with COVID-19. Medline provides information in multiple languages, including Spanish, Khmer, Arabic, Farsi, Ukrainian, and Haitian Creole, among others (https://medlineplus.gov/languages/covid19coronavirusdisease2019.html).

USA.gov also provides significant information in English and in Spanish (https://www.usa.gov/espanol). The USA.gov webpage on COVID-19 contains information on vaccines and general COVID information and provides links to information on unemployment, COVID information for businesses, and how to avoid scams and frauds related to COVID (https://www.usa.gov/espanol/covid-vacunas-sintomas-pruebas?_gl=1*r3ldba*_ga*MTkyOTIzOTI2NS4xNTk2NzQzMjg2*_ga_GXFTMLX26S*MTY1NzExMzM0Mi40LjEuMTY1NzExMzQ0Ni4w). The Federal Drug Administration is another source of COVID information in multiple languages (https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/multilingual-covid-19-resources). The FDA provides a social media kit on vaccine myths in six languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers COVID-19 information in Spanish for the emergency treatment and management of COVID in the workplace (https://www.osha.gov/publications/bytopic/covid-19-healthcare-emergency-temporary-standard). A somewhat surprising source of COVID Information is the Small Business Administration, which provides information in approximately 30 languages to help small business owners with COVID recovery (https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/covid-19-recovery-information-other-languages).

In addition to federal level resources, there are also COVID-19 resources in other languages available from local and state level agencies. The City of Boston has COVID information in a variety of languages including Greek and Albanian (https://www.boston.gov/departments/language-and-communications-access/covid-19-resources-other-languages). The state of Vermont has excellent resources including information on COVID variants, stress management, and testing information in numerous languages (https://www.healthvermont.gov/media/translation/covid-19-translations).

These are just a few of the many COVID resources that we can provide for our patrons in other languages. Please take a few minutes to view these resources and look for others. Then, reach out with compassion to your patrons who speak other languages and offer these resources.

Jane Canfield (jcanfield@pucpr.edu), Depository Coordinator, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Biblioteca Encarnación Valdés, Puerto Rico.


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