Community trusted messengers or promotores have been working across San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County to make sure minorities have access to accurate information about COVID-19.
One of those organizations is the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), which serves the Mixteco community.
Abigail Hernandez is a part of the COVID-19 Response Team with MICOP. Hernandez is a translator who is making sure Mixteco-speaking residents are informed about the pandemic.
Hernandez said Mixtecos in Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County, many of whom are farmworkers, did not have access to information about testing and vaccines in their native language.
Mexico is home to 68 indigenous languages and Mixteco is just one of them. It is mostly spoken in Oaxaca, a state in Southern Mexico.
Hernandez explained that having an office with resources in Spanish, English and Mixteco can make a huge difference.
Especially when Latinos were the hardest hit community by the virus. Since the pandemic started, 20,002 cases have been reported among Latinos in Santa Barbara County and 8,639 in San Luis Obispo County.
Along with two other translators, Hernandez stops by local markets and laundromats in both counties to share flyers about COVID-19.
Starting on Monday Oct. 4, 2021 one of MICOP’s offices in Santa Maria located at 716 East Chapel St., Santa Maria, CA 93454 will start testing about 60 people per day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 AM to 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM.
Hernandez added that with children back in school this is another opportunity to offer free testing at a place that feels like a safe space.
The organization is asking community members interested in this service to call ahead of time to make an appointment.