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Sacramento's non-English speaking community steps up to provide health information

Trang Nguyen and her friends are working to educate the Vietnamese community about covidtests.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The website COVIDtests.gov is up and running, and it allows every household in the U.S. to get 4 free COVID tests, shipping included. While many say it couldn’t be easier, it often isn’t the case for non-English speakers.

Fortunately, people like Trang Nguyen from Sacramento are trying to make getting tests a bit easier for their community.

“I’m working together with a few friends of mine who are Vietnamese Americans to, first of all, reach out to our family members and to really spread the word about this opportunity. And surprisingly, a lot of people haven’t heard of it,” Nguyen said.

That might be because the website COVIDtests.gov only has the choice of three languages: English, Spanish and Chinese.

Trang and her friends decided to get the word out on their own.

“The word spread, and now not only are we reaching out to our family members alone but also people within the community,” Nguyen said.

They’re posting on social media, but they are also getting the word out the old-fashioned way.

“Our plan is also to use this weekend to go to the supermarket, where we’re able to see a lot more people who are Vietnamese in our community, so that we can pass out flyers to them and spread the word,” Nguyen said.

Mao Vang is the health program manager at La Familia, an organization known for providing community support services.

“Sacramento, number one, is a very diverse community. We have a range of folks from different cultures, that speak different languages...,” said Vang.

She said they don’t speak every language at La Familia, but they can bridge the gap for those trying to get tests.

“If anyone needs any help getting it, feel free to reach out to La Familia. If we don’t speak the languages, we have our Sacramento collaborations partner that we can refer them out to for language support or language interpretation,” Vang said.

She said ultimately, health in California is a collaborative effort.

“We know that our community-based organizations are the people on the ground doing the work. They’re trusted with staff who look like the community members who speak like them, who understand what they’re going through or what they have been through to get them what they need to get through this time of COVID right now,” Vang said.

Nguyen said when it comes to keeping communities healthy, anyone can help.

“We definitely do encourage for everyone who speaks multiple languages and (if) you’re able to reach communities that might not speak English, Chinese or Spanish, you can also take initiatives to do something -- maybe passing out flyers, spread the word starting with your family members and that can definitely help a lot more people in our community be protected,” Nguyen said.

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