The new guidelines sent out by the White House regarding COVID-19 on March 16, 2020. Photo: @meredithmcgraw
The new guidelines sent out by the White House regarding COVID-19 on March 16, 2020. Photo: @meredithmcgraw

The White House and CDC fail to keep updated sources on COVID-19 in Spanish

The last translated material released is dated March 6.


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On March 16, the White House and Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines for the public on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Down from a Sunday night recommendation for local governments to ban gatherings of more than 50 people, the new plan suggested residents avoid groups of 10.

The new suggestions are under the White House’s campaign of “15 Days to Slow the Spread”, and come after two-and-a-half weeks of ever-more stringent guidelines regarding COVID-19 in the U.S.

At the end of February into the first week of March, the CDC provided weekly updates on the virus in the country. Now, the White House provides those daily.

As information and guidelines change, they must not only be verbally presented through press conferences, but also altered on the physical and digital material distributed through print-outs and the White House and CDC websites.

For precautionary reasons, every guide put out by the CDC, whether it be for businesses, schools or local health officials has “interim” in the title to let it be known that the advice given could and likely will change over time.

However, a portion of these “interim” changes have never been translated into another language, especially Spanish, where the population is up to 53 million in the U.S.

At least 11 million are bilingual English-Spanish speakers, but there’s still a large portion of the population that only operates in Spanish.

What are they supposed to do if they want updated info from the White House or CDC about COVID-19? 

That’s the same question Latino Rebels founder and journalist Julio Ricardo Varela asked the White House on March 16  when he realized the same discrepancy in language access.   

“Close to 18 hours after these guidelines were announced, there is still no official government Spanish version of the guidelines, and according to the White House, there was no indication as to when an official Spanish version will be made available to the public, as well as other languages,” wrote Varela. 

Well, more than 24 hours after Varela’s inquiry and the CDC seems to be making a little progress translating its many pages of COVID-19 guidelines.

What it has done is tweet some of the most basic advice — like washing hands and disinfecting surfaces — on its CDC en Español and CDC Environment accounts.

On the website, pages on how to protect yourself, how COVID-19 spreads, traveling during the pandemic, and the interim guide for school administrators are all now available in Spanish, but there are still some holes. 

Until yesterday, the White House's campaign of "15 Days to Slow the Spread" did not have a Spanish version.

Varela obtained email copies of the campaign in Spanish from the White House, but nothing had gone public, except what he tweeted.

Here is an updated link to the Spanish version of the guidelines.

For perspective, before the inquiry, the last release translated in Spanish released by the CDC was dated March 6.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with a link to the Spanish version of the White House's "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines. 



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