CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC – CITY OF BOSTON LAUNCHES MULTILINGUAL TEXT SERVICE WITH COVID-19 UPDATES
Enhanced language capacity to target over 37 percent of Boston residents that speak another language at home.
Boston Strong news – Boston, MA: City of Boston Mayor reports 3.24.2020.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 — In an effort to ensure all of Boston’s communities get timely and accurate information about COVID-19, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the texting service Alert Boston is now available in Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, Cabo Verdean Creole, and Portuguese, in addition to English. Texts are sent multiple times a day with Boston case numbers, local updates about the spread of the virus, preventative measures to mitigate the spread, and city resources.
“Boston residents who speak other languages need and deserve to receive information from their city government about this public health emergency just as English speakers do every day,” said Mayor Walsh. “We are working with dozens of dedicated multilingual staff across City departments and community organizations to support this effort. We’re ready as a team to continue supporting the language needs of Boston residents.”
Residents can text BOSCOVID to 99411 to opt-in to alerts in English and the following keywords to opt-in to alerts in the languages below:
- Text BOSEspanol to 99411 for Spanish
- Text BOSKreyol to 99411 for Haitian Creole
- Text BOSFrancais to 99411 for French
- Text BOSKriolu to 99411 for Cabo Verdean Creole
- Text BOSPortugues to 99411 for Portuguese
Residents who have questions are encouraged to call 311 to be connected with a telephonic interpreter, or through the Mayor’s Health Line at (617) 534-5050. Updates in 10 total languages can additionally be accessed through boston.gov/coronavirus#multilingual-help. Each language has its own page and hosts multilingual print materials distributed citywide:
- Arabic: boston.gov/covid-19-ar
- Cabo Verdean Creole: boston.gov/covid-19-cv
- Simplified Chinese: boston.gov/covid-19-zh
- Spanish: boston.gov/covid-19-es
- Somali: boston.gov/covid-19-so
- Russian: boston.gov/covid-19-ru
- Vietnamese: boston.gov/covid-19-vi
- French: boston.gov/covid-19-fr
- Portuguese (Brazil): boston.gov/covid-19-pt
- Haitian Creole: boston.gov/covid-19-hc
This weekend, a thousand City of Boston employees and volunteers delivered printed information on COVID-19 to all homes in Boston, reaching seniors, residents with language access needs and those who may not have access to the internet. Volunteers were instructed not to interact with residents and all pamphlets were left at doorsteps in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The pamphlet outlines details about the virus, a list of preventative measures, and a compilation of city resources, including food access sites. The pamphlet includes information in: English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cabo Verdean Creole and Russian. Additionally the materials have been translated into Portuguese, Arabic and Somali, and are available online.
In addition to providing multilingual information via text alerts, Boston.gov and in printed materials delivered to households, Mayor Walsh, along with many City employees, has been doing weekly robocalls for thousands of Boston adults over 60 years of age in multiple languages. Bilingual members of Mayor Walsh’s team have also been conducting interviews with ethnic media to relay information in multiple languages. The Mayor’s press conferences have provided ASL interpretation and English captioning on live streams.