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After pressure, Trump coronavirus guide is in Spanish on CDC, White House sites

An advocacy group said providing information in Spanish was crucial because "lives are on the line."
Image: A commuter walks past a CDC display of coronavirus information at the Gallery Place Metro station in Washington on March 13, 2020.
A commuter walks past a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention display of coronavirus information at the Gallery Place Metro station in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 13, 2020.Carolyn Kaster / AP

Under pressure from Latino groups, the Trump administration posted a Spanish translation of the president's latest and strictest coronavirus guidelines on the websites of the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Spanish-language version of "15 Days to Slow the Spread" was posted late Thursday afternoon, three days after it was released in English.

The translation comes after complaints from Latino groups who said they were scrambling to fill the gap in information for Spanish-dominant speakers.

Among the guidance that had not been provided in Spanish on the public sites was advice to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer.

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President Donald Trump released the guidance Monday, signaling growing urgency around containing COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. On Thursday, Latino groups said the Spanish-language guidance was overdue.

"President Trump has failed to recognize he serves all Americans, and that includes the millions of people in the United States who primarily speak Spanish or some other language at home," said Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., chairman of Bold PAC, the political fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Darryl Morin, president and board chairman of Forward Latino, an advocacy group, said information in Spanish is crucial because "lives are on the line."

"People want to know what they can do to keep loved ones and their families safe, especially in the Latino community, where the elderly often live with families," said Morin, who had written a letter to the CDC and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

"We need to have access to pertinent information, and every minute that information is not available continues to put more lives at risk," he said.

The administration's failure to translate the guidance, first reported by Latino Rebels, prompted demands from national Latino groups for the information to be posted on the CDC site in Spanish.

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Rather than post it on the site, the White House provided a copy of the guidelines in Spanish on Tuesday to reporters from some of the main Latino media outlets and shared them on Twitter.

In a statement emailed to NBC News attributed to a "WH Official," the administration said it had provided a copy of the guidelines to Latino outlets whose "reach is in the millions and it was subsequently sent to more than a thousand leaders in the Hispanic and Latino communities."

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But critics pointed out that it's important to have the information in Spanish on the CDC website, where Americans are being told to go for information on the deadly virus.

Almost every briefing held by the administration and its coronavirus task force ends with "please go to our CDC website for the latest information and guidance," Morin said.

About 40 million people in the country speak Spanish at home, although some are bilingual or have someone else in the home who is bilingual.

On the CDC's main page, visitors can click on the "Coronavirus Disease 2019" link. That takes them to a page that includes a top yellow banner of the president's guidelines, which has a "Spanish" link to the information.

The guidelines also can be found by going directly to the White House's main page. A graphic in English reading "The President's Coronavirus Guidelines For America" can be found by scrolling just below a banner photo of Trump and other government officials.

"We're pleased to see the most recent guidance was added, but there's still a lot of information not there, and we are waiting," Morin said.

The Trump White House has not maintained a Spanish language website, as was done during the administration of President Barack Obama, although the administration had at one point said it planned to have one.

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