LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – If there is one thing COVID-19 is showing us is that people everywhere are stepping up in various ways.
While some people are using monetary resources, others are using skills they were born with; so when a Little Rock woman saw a need for the local Spanish speaking community to be better informed about the coronavirus – she stepped up.
Blanca Hernandez is a nutritionist working with local schools for the University of Arkansas Pulaski County Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock.
However, she is also the catalyst behind the new Spanish language version of the cooperative extension service COVID-19 site that officially launched this week.
She says the idea came shorlty after the coronavirus outbreak began.
Hernandez says she found herself researching and learning as much as she could about the illness.
“Everything was happening so quickly and changing,” Hernandez explains about her first encounters with COVID-19 information.
Last week, the CDC released a report showing the effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minority groups and the emerging cases.
Hernandez says she noticed each new day brought more information about the novel virus and felt she needed to step up for the better of everyone.
“Everybody goes to the supermarket. Everybody goes to the gas station. Everybody goes – so it’s just really the community. It’s a community helping each other,” says Hernandez.
As U.S. health officials race to provide communities with important information about the illness, Hernandez explains how she saw non-English speakers becoming more at risk.
“I started asking questions and getting more information,” she says. “What about the Spanish community – we don’t have anything available in Spanish, so what can we do?”
Hernandez is fluent in both English and Spanish and says she asked her supervisor if she could help translate the extension service website for the Spanish community, creating a “COVID-19 Resource” section.
“The beginning was like every moment, everyday we had to do it,” Hernandez explains.
She understands while online translation applications are available and fairly accurate when dealing with one or two words – they fall short when presented with sentences and paragraphs.
Making the information difficult for readers to understand.
“In a moment like this you need the information to be to everybody,” she says.
Hernandez credits the support she received from many of her colleagues at the U of A Cooperative Extension Service.
Most notably, Dr. Keiddy Urrea Romero, who is located in Fayetteville, also helps with translating information for the website.
Together the women are helping keep the website updated, the Spanish speaking community informed and overall everyone safe.
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