Coalition calls for more Latino resources amid COVID-19 pandemic

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18 Latino-serving organizations send open letter to Gov. Lee, local governments demanding immediate solutions

WKRN

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Latino-serving groups across the state are calling for Tennessee leaders to create solutions in education and services amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a three-page open letter sent last week titled “COVID 19 Rates in Tennessee’s Latino Communities is a State of Emergency,” 18 Latino-serving organizations representing Tennessee’s Latino communities asked Gov. Bill Lee for his and state leaders’ aid in the effort for more resources.

Knoxville-based nonprofit Centro Hispano de East Tennessee and the Diocese of Knoxville were among the letter signees.

The letter stated Latino communities are experiencing a disproportionately high rate of positive COVID-19 cases and they want Gov. Lee and other leaders to invest in Spanish-speaking community health workers and case management programs.

They also want the state to provide alternative quarantine solutions for Latino families in need and to partner with Spanish-speaking media groups to promote testing.

“The main goal here is to create a strategy that is inclusive to all Tennesseans and that includes, we have to be sensitive to language barriers, we have to be sensitive about different people have different immigration statuses, this is not time for politics,” Mauricio Clavo, executive director of Latino Memphis, said.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) also expressed support for the letter, saying “as Tennessee continues to receive national attention for rising rates of COVID-19 infections, the groups call for a robust plan and response from elected leaders to curb the rate of infections and save lives. The demands highlight the need for a focused and targeted response to reach the communities most impacted by the pandemic and ensure that no one is left behind.”

In Knox County, Hispanic individuals make up 238 of the 741 positive and probable COVID-19 cases, which is more than 30% of the county’s total.

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