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Public Health
KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

COVID-19 Bilingual Contact Tracers Are Struggling As Cases Continue To Spike

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COVID-19 contact tracers continue to be in short supply. That’s especially true for bilingual ones.

According to health officials in Nevada, bilingual contact tracers are working seven days a week and up to 14 hours a day.

“Right now, it is a very difficult time, and as far as having enough [bilingual contact tracers], I don’t think anyone in the nation has enough,” said Nevada epidemiologist Liliana Wilbert.

And some community members are hostile when they're contacted by them, according to Diane Sande with the Nevada Public Health Training Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“I can’t tell you how selfless and how hard these contact tracers are working, and there are still a lot of people that when they receive that call from the contact tracer, they don’t want to give the right information, they hang up on them, they yell at them,” Sande said.

Sande says many people in the Latino community already distrust the government. Some of that mistrust comes from a lack of Spanish public health messaging. Most public health resources are translated from English rather than written in Spanish, Sande says, which results in public health messaging getting lost in translation.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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