Philadelphia tackles coronavirus with the COVID-19 Community Response Captain Program
The initiative to educate communities about the virus is being led by the city’s Philly Counts office.
Back in September 2019, Philadelphia’s Philly Counts 2020 office hit a major milestone in its efforts to prepare the city for the 2020 census.
It trained more than 2,000 people from all across the city to be “census champions” for the decennial count, which started on April 1.
The idea was to train trusted sources within Philly’s communities about all the information surrounding the census, from how to fill it out and who can, to dispelling common falsehoods like the appearance of a citizenship question.
Back then, the novel coronavirus had yet to even make a blip on the world’s radar. Now, seven months later, it has thrown a massive wrench into the U.S. Census Bureau’s collection plans, pushing many deadlines and operations back on the 2020 calendar.
Like the census, COVID-19 also has a maelstrom of misinformation swirling about everything from a nonexistent cure to its overall existence.
To combat the falsehoods, Philadelphia’s Philly Counts office is calling on the same infrastructure that created the success of the Census Champion training to train community members about COVID-19.
Rather than “Census Champions,” these community members will be known as Community Response Captains and will be the resource for their neighborhoods on everything surrounding COVID-19.
According to a press release from the Philly Counts office, the captains will be responsible for sharing updated information about COVID-19, checking in on their neighbors, encouraging them to follow CDC guidelines and helping them seek services if necessary.
The final and most important role for the captains is to communicate with non-English speakers in their communities about COVID-19.
A major problem with a daily evolving issue like COVID-19 has been translating all the new information into different languages in a timely manner to make it as accessible as possible.
Philadelphia, after initially only broadcasting its daily COVID-19 updates in English, has adapted to include Spanish, while also providing resources on its COVID-19 web page in 10 different languages.
The White House was also initially called out for only publishing its now-extended 15-day quarantine plan only in English and has struggled along with the CDC to provide adequate multi-language resources about COVID-19.
In Philly, the Community Response Captains are also an opportunity to open up a much-needed dialog between non-English speaking residents and the city.
“They can also help the City stay informed on the issues impacting their communities so that we can explore creative solutions in the COVID-19 recovery process,” said Amy Eusebio, Executive Director of Philly’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Philly Counts’ Community Response Captain training sessions started on April 7 and will be hosted virtually in English, Spanish, French and Chinese.
To check out the dates and times of certain sessions, go here to register.