KC-area health experts answer COVID-19 questions from Latinos in bilingual roundtable

Overcoming COVID-19 Together Bilingual Panel
Posted at 9:05 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 23:51:49-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that six in 10 Hispanic adults say they don't have enough information about where to get a vaccine.

Community and health leaders in the Kansas City area hope to change that for the local Latino population.

Vibrant Health, which prides itself on providing "culturally sensitive" health care "regardless of socio-economic obstacles," has become a vital resource for Latinos in Kansas City, Kansas, and surrounding communities for health information and care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Questions are being answered, the myths are being dispelled," Andrea Perdomo-Morales, chief program officer at Vibrant Health, said.

Perdomo-Morales often hears from patients about fears and concerns regarding COVID-19 testing and now vaccines, but she reassures them that Vibrant Health will protect their privacy.

"All of the information that we gather is for our use only," Perdomo-Morales said. "We do have to provide some of the demographic information to the state, but none of that would be used by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or other individuals."

She was one of the seven panelists who took part Thursday in "Overcoming COVID-19 Together," a bilingual discussion organized by the Juntos Center for Advancing Latino Health.

The mission? "To give the Latino community a voice, a window to express their concerns, and for our officials in Johnson and Wyandotte County to address them," Juntos Center Director Mariana Ramirez said.

Kansas City-area health leaders believe some of the myths spreading locally may originate overseas.

"There's also information coming from our Latin countries that sometimes doesn't necessarily align to what we're seeing here in the U.S.," Ramirez said. "A few weeks ago, the president from Venezuela talked about miracle drugs that would cure people who are infected with the virus."

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro touted an unstudied, secretive "powerful antiviral" as a cure for COVID-19 in late January, while Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who recently recovered from a bout with COVID-19, has refused to wear a mask.

"We see messaging that is different," Ramirez said.

She said it has helped that important messages related to COVID-19 are now widely available in multiple languages, a change from the beginning of the pandemic.

"We are not trying to persuade anyone to do anything but informing themselves, so they can make an informed decision," Ramirez said.