Congressman Gonzalez and 14 Members Request House and Senate Leadership to Include Inclusive Language for COVID-19 Media Broadcasting

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Texas Border Business

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) and 14 House Members sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting the next COVID-19 response package include language to enable a strong educational and informational effort using broadcast media, including public radio and TV, to advise and inform the public on how to deal with the pandemic. 

The lawmakers requested all radio and television media, including major networks and public broadcasting networks, transmit linguistically– and culturally–inclusive information for public consumption in order to flatten the curve and curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Whether it is Spanish, American Sign Language or another language, we need to reach every American demographic to inform them of relevant pandemic-related information,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “TV and radio stations across the country can help us inform the general public of the latest regarding the coronavirus and work to keep people informed around-the-clock. We must equip radio and TV networks with the ability to produce this content during this time of need. Reaching non-English speaking communities will enable us to more effectively curb the spread of the virus.”

Signers of the letter include: Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Raul Ruiz (CA-36), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), Jimmy Gomez (CA-35), Norma Torres (CA-34), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Darren Soto (FL-09), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44).

The letter can be found here and below: 

March 23, 2020 

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The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House 

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Minority Leader 

U.S. House of Representatives 

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader

The United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader

The United States Senate

Washington D.C. 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Majority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader Schumer,

As members serving in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), we write to express our desire that the next coronavirus response package include language to enable a strong educational and informational effort, using the broadcast media, to advise and inform the general public as to how best to deal with the current coronavirus outbreak. 

Over the past several days, we have learned that our non-English speaking constituents have had limited access to reliable information concerning the COVID-19 response, including official documents, announcements, and proclamations from local, state, and federal officials. The lack of information and prevalence of disinformation have demonstrated the urgent need for official announcements to be disseminated effectively and in a multi-lingual way. Our non-English speaking citizens and residents are entitled to better access to information and in a mainstream method. Our English and non-English speaking populations need to be informed about this pandemic, how it will impact them, and what they need to do in order to limit its spread.  

In the absence of medical treatments or vaccines, we know that one of the few means to halt the spread of the virus is through preventive actions by the public.  Therefore, local, state and federal public officials must communicate clear and concise messages that are targeted to local audiences, available in the media they regularly utilize, and in the languages, they primarily speak at home.  

Domestic radio and television media, including all major radio and TV networks in the country, as well as public broadcasting networks such as the National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service, are proven and reliable resources we must utilize to accomplish this goal.  Not only are they free media, but they are available in nearly every part of the country on a full-time basis, and transmitted to these specific demographics in their own language.  In our experience, the public turns to the domestic broadcast media in times of national or local emergencies, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires. This is just such a time.   

Congress must prioritize a linguistically- and culturally-inclusive broadcast media-based educational and informational effort that secures public cooperation.  This will aid in flattening the curve, and curb the spread of the virus in both English and non-English speaking communities across the country.  Further, the federal government must utilize the broadcasters whose programming, from language and service perspectives, reach the many and varied minority groups in this country.  We have a strong and vibrant broadcasting community serving our country, and they will be effective partners in this effort. 

We ask that any further legislation include robust funding for the development and dissemination of all official public health information, announcements, and proclamations in multiple languages on radio and television networks. Reaching our non-English speaking communities will enable us to more effectively curb the spread of this virus. 

Sincerely,  

Vicente Gonzalez 

Member of Congress 

Ben Ray Lujan 

Member of Congress 

Filemon Vela  

Member of Congress 

Tony Cárdenas 

Member of Congress 

Sylvia R. Garcia 

Member of Congress 

Ruben Gallego 

Member of Congress 

Raul Ruiz, M.D. 

Member of Congress  

Grace F. Napolitano  

Member of Congress 

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia 

Member of Congress 

Jimmy Gomez 

Member of Congress 

Norma Torres 

Member of Congress 

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell 

Member of Congress  

Darren Soto  

Member of Congress 

Veronica Escobar

Member of Congress

Nanette Diaz Barragán

Member of Congress

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