NOTE TO MEDIA:
Media are invited to join outreach volunteers at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18th at the staging area in Patterson Park at the corner of Linwood and Eastern avenues. Members of the media are welcome to attend to see the “sound truck” in action and capture b-roll. Dr. Mark Martin, Deputy Director of the MDH Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities and a member of the Hispanic Community Support Task Force, will be available on-site starting at 12:30 p.m. for interviews about outreach efforts.
October 16, 2020
Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536
Charles Gischlar, Deputy Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-6491
Maryland Department of Health launches COVID-19 mobile public education unit and health hotline for Baltimore Latinx community
MDH’s Hispanic Community Support Task Force directs targeted outreach and resources to Baltimore neighborhoods hit hard by pandemic
Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Health’s (MDH) COVID-19 Hispanic Community Support Task Force will launch an outreach campaign providing targeted assistance to Baltimore’s Latinx community starting on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 1 p.m.
After the campaign kicks off Sunday with the inaugural run of a mobile public health education unit – or sound truck – circulating through specific neighborhoods in the 21224 ZIP code, the truck will operate for six additional consecutive days in the community. From Oct. 19 to 24, the truck will travel a predesignated route between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.
The truck, outfitted with COVID-19 informational banners, will broadcast COVID prevention and safety messages from its public-address system in both Spanish and English. Volunteers will distribute COVID informational flyers in Spanish and English and free face masks at designated stops along the route. Messaging will focus on testing, isolating when sick, social distancing, mask wearing and available resources to families impacted by the pandemic.
Additionally, a Spanish-language hotline has been established through Catholic Charities’ Esperanza Center to connect callers to needed resources. Flyers distributed through the outreach will direct residents in need to contact the hotline.
“The pandemic has presented particularly challenging circumstances for members of our Hispanic communities. These Marylanders are struggling not only with access to testing and health care, but also with the loss of wages, locating safe housing for isolating and food security issues,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “The Hispanic Community Support Task Force is working to make resources available, while eliminating the language barrier and other complications that stand in the way of people getting the help they need.”
“MDH established the Hispanic Community Support Task Force with state, local and community partners to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 and improve outcomes in the 21224 ZIP code,” said Dr. Mark Martin, Deputy Director of MDH’s Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities and a member of the Task Force. “We have created a model for outreach that we hope can be used in other jurisdictions as needed.”
The task force is supported by numerous community partners, including the Baltimore City Health Department and Mayor’s Office, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Highlandtown, the Esperanza Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital and others.
The truck’s daily route will include stops in the Eastern Avenue Business District and the residential neighborhoods of Bayview, Canton, Dundalk, Highlandtown, Patterson Park and Joseph Lee Park. Representatives from MDH and the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP will distribute informational flyers and face masks at each of the truck’s stops.
'The Hispanic community in 21224 has been impacted disproportionately by COVID-19. We have strategized with community partners to get information out about masks, social distancing, testing, access to food and other resources,” said Bishop Bruce Lewandowski, Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus. “We've used social media and radio news programs; we've even gone door to door. We need to reach as many people as possible and using this sound truck is another way to go about it.'
Residents who have exhibited a fever or other symptoms, tested positive in the past seven days, or been exposed to someone with COVID-19 can call the Esperanza Center health hotline at 667-600-2314. Spanish-speaking operators are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to schedule testing and assist eligible community members with referrals to follow-up care, food and cash assistance, eviction-prevention support, and access to isolation housing.
The Hispanic Community Support Task Force is one of MDH’s programs to assist Maryland communities where COVID-19 has had disproportionate effects on the social determinants of health. In addition to establishing the mobile education unit and health hotline, the task force has worked within the Latinx community to:
- Provide social services and referrals to services
- Encourage cooperation with contact-tracing efforts
- Identify non-congregate housing to support self-isolation of individuals with COVID-19
- Reinforce the importance of testing and following public health guidance
The effects of COVID-19 on minority communities are outlined here. Additional COVID-19 information and resources are available at coronavirus.maryland.gov.
The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement. Follow us on Twitter @MDHealthDept and at Facebook.com/MDHealthDept.