New Houston COVID initiative reaches out to Hispanics

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The City of Houston is starting a 21-day COVID-19 outreach initiative to the Hispanic community. It's focused on information, resources, and testing andart of the strategy is using social media influencers to help spread the message.

One of those influencers is Rodolfo "El Chamo" Soules. He is a radio DJ with more a huge social media presence. More than 600,000 people follow him on Facebook. Another 100,000 on Instagram.

"When I deliver a message I know someone is out there listening," Soules told ABC13. "I'm staying home, I'm trying to protect myself, but I'm seeing all of my Latinos out there not necessarily taking the steps to prevent this virus"

The new city effort is called 'Todos Juntos Mejor,' which translates to 'Together We're Better'. Soules' role is simple

"Posting video, content, explaining what to do," he said. "Explaining and pushing the four steps."

The four steps are wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, and getting tested. The effort is a multi-pronged approach to make sure that those in the Hispanic community understand the resources they have available to them, that immigration status is not reported when they seek help, and that they need to help stop the spread. The virus disproportionately impacts communities of color.

"We're also engaging some community based organizations to enhance our outreach in those communities," said Dr. Stephen L. Williams, the director of The Houston Health Department. "We believe the most credible messengers are those folks from those communities."

It is also personal for El Chamo. His brothers, fraternal twins, both have Covid-19 right now. He tells people who think it's not real that it is and that they need to be part of the solution.

Covid-19 is disproportionately effecting and infecting people of color.

"We've seen a larger number of people from the Hispanic community that are testing positive and that's 42 percent of those people where we know the ethnicity," said Porfirio Villarreal with the Houston Health Department.

State Representative Armando Walle is the Harris County Covid-19 Recovery Czar and he worked with the county judge and the Mayor to help reach Hispanics. He's not directly involved in the campaign but knows its importance.

"We're trying to save lives. We're trying to save livelihoods but we have to save lives as well," Walle said. "A lot of these folks are front line workers, a lot of these folks could be on the verge of being evicted. A lot of these folks maybe cannot find child care. "

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