CANYON COUNTY, Idaho — Enrique Rivera serves as current the President and CEO of the Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC). In 2020, Rivera said he was approached by the City of Nampa to be part of a new task force.
“Getting more resources and information during the pandemic to the Hispanic community. In the city of Nampa, over 25 percent of the population is Hispanic or Latino, and they wanted to make an effort and do more to reach out to the Hispanic community,” Rivera said.
The City of Nampa established the Hispanic/ Latino COVID-19 task force. Over the past year the task force has grown.
“Started with a few individuals grew tremendously over the past year. In bringing in the hospital, southwest district health, doctors, clinics, and other trusted leaders in the community to provide information and resources, the community can make an educated decision.”
The task force is made up of local health districts, systems, Hispanic leaders in the community, and organizations. Their efforts have expanded beyond Nampa to help Hispanic and Latino families throughout Canyon County.
Local leaders were concerned Hispanic and Latino residents weren’t getting accurate information about the pandemic. In December 2020, the CDC data revealed COVID-19 was having a disproportionate impact on the Latino community, including higher death rates.
Currently, state data shows Hispanic residents make up 16 percent of COVID cases despite accounting for less than 13 percent of the state's population.
Maribel Ramos is a Family Community resource and Engagement coordinator for a local school district. She is also part of the task force and during the bi-weekly meetings, she shares what concerns or questions Hispanic/ Latino families might have about the pandemic.
“We wanted to make sure everybody was getting the correct information because it was making an impact on their lives not having that information. We wanted to make sure everybody in our community is healthy,” Ramos said.
Ramos said one important key that helps to provide information to Hispanic and Latino communities is having trusted sources for COVID information.
“It’s important to have these people who live like you and represent you and give you the information you may need,” she said.
The task force has also been able to connect Hispanic families with health care providers and COVID vaccinations.
Jesus Blanco is an Outreach Patient Navigator at Terry Reilly Health Services. He’s been helping with the effort to make the COVID-19 vaccines go mobile to provide access in rural areas and community events
"We go out there and have our clinicians out there, who can provide the info they need. We have Spanish-speaking staff that they resonate with, and we’ve had success.”
Blanco said they are still combating misinformation about COVID and addressing hesitancy among all communities.
The task force has also supported Hispanic business owners.
"Getting them the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and information. Small busies were a key help putting posters and getting the invocation to the Hispanic community," Rivera said.
Some members hope the task force will continue and evolve into tackling other barriers the Hispanic and Latino communities may face.