HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — A James Madison University Spanish professor has received a 4-VA grant for her project “COVID-19 and Central Shenandoah Valley Spanish-Speaking Communities: Exploring Impact and Perceptions of COVID Toward Enhanced Rapid Response Health Communication and Care.”
Professor Diana Galarreta says she got the idea after reading an article about how Spanish-speaking communities make up only 10% of the population in Virginia, but make up 45% of COVID-19 cases, 35% of hospitalizations, and 11% of coronavirus-related deaths.
She says the goal of the project is to conduct research on this community through surveys and focus group interviews to understand their situation, then provide them with better support and information with educational tools.
“Physically they have been affected by the virus, but also economically. Many of them have lost their jobs, and especially the most vulnerable population are the ones who are undocumented Latinos,” Galarreta said. “I knew that they were a vulnerable population, but just reading those numbers made me think about the why.”
Galarreta adds that she will be working with her colleagues, Dr. Carlos Aleman, Dr. Andrea Martinez Gonzalez and Dr. Tobias Reynolds-Tylus, as well as JMU graduate students and local nonprofits. She says her team hopes to move quickly, as this is an ongoing problem.
“It’s a very unique community in terms of access to information that they have, and lack of information sometimes,” Galarreta said. “Especially in a situation where we need rapid response and reliable information.”
Galarreta says they plan to conduct surveys this summer.