Latino groups slam Trump's failure to issue coronavirus guide in Spanish

"They have the right to expect the same information to protect their families, and doing so will help all of us," said Forward Latino's Darryl Morin.
A commuter walks past a CDC display of coronavirus information at the Gallery Place Metro station in Washington on March 13, 2020.Carolyn Kaster / AP
By Suzanne Gamboa

The president's latest advice on slowing the spread of coronavirus was not available online in Spanish as of Tuesday, alarming some Latino groups.

A banner in English stamped across the coronavirus page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website links to the latest administration guidance for preventing coronavirus.

The guidelines published by the White House are only in English and include, among other things, the administration’s recommendation that gatherings be limited to 10 people or less.

But that banner isn’t found on the Spanish language version of the CDC site, which itself takes a little hunting to find. The CDC page's Español link is in tiny letters at the top right corner of its main page. The link for other languages also is found there.

The White House website's banner promoting coronavirus resources links back to the English language CDC site.

The failure of the administration to translate the guidance was first reported by Latino Rebels.

Darryl Morin, president of the advocacy group Forward Latino, sent a letter Tuesday to CDC Director Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, urging that the guidelines be made available in Spanish. The group produced a video with Sixteenth Street Community Health Center in Milwaukee to help provide more information in Spanish.

“Knowing there are ... Latinos who are Spanish dominant, they have the right to expect the same information to protect their families, and doing so will help all of us bring this to a close faster. … Without this information we are doing a great disservice,” Morin told NBC News.

Basic guidelines such as washing hands and staying home are available by phone on the CDC’s consumer line in Spanish. But the recording recommends finding more information online and gives the web address for the English language site.

Bold PAC, the political fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, translated the president's guidelines into Spanish and published them.

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“There are more than 40 million Americans who speak Spanish at home. It’s unacceptable for the president to provide public health guidelines without offering those guidelines in Spanish and other languages spoken in the United States,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., who serves as chairman of Bold PAC, the political fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said its local councils are working with county health providers to translate documents and provide translators to hospitals and clinics.

“We are finding there is a lack of information in Spanish and a lack of people putting out that information to the Spanish-speaking Latino community,” Garcia said. “There’s a big gap that needs to be filled.”

UnidosUS, a national Latino advocacy, has created its own coronavirus page and social media sites in Spanish to help answer questions and distribute information.

Telemundo, the Spanish-language network that is a part of Comcast NBC Universal, has expanded its coronavirus coverage and is hosting a national weekday newscast, “Noticias Telemundo Presenta-Coronavirus: Un Pais En Alerta” that premiered Tuesday afternoon. Coverage also is posted online.

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Suzanne Gamboa

Suzanne Gamboa is a national reporter for NBC Latino and NBCNews.com