Community influencers partner with UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health to meet Wisconsin’s diverse health and communications needs amid COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately impact historically marginalized populations in Wisconsin and the need for accurate, culturally appropriate and relevant information is more important than ever.

UW-Madison SMPH

Now, a team of community influencers, including representatives from Wisconsin’s African American and Latinx communities and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, are collaborating with researchers at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health to meet this important health and communications need.

“We know that people are looking for information they can trust – that is accurate and vetted – and from people they trust,” says Maria Mora Pinzón, MD, MS, one of the project’s leads. To ensure this flow of accurate and timely information, and ultimately to reduce the spread and risks of COVID-19, the project team has developed a partnership with local community influencers, including

Sacheen Lawrence, Venus Washington and the Latino Health Council of Dane County, to provide accurate information and support to their respective communities. The community influencers are recognized members of the community who are active on social media, and who, like social influencers, serve as trusted sources of information.

“It is critical for the Latinx community to have accurate, culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate information,” says Fernando Cano Ospina, a member of the executive committee of the Latino Health Council of Dane County.

Since the pandemic started, the Latino Health Council of Dane County was sharing information to address the needs of the community. When the opportunity to partner for this project came up, rather than appoint a single influencer, the Council’s leadership, including Cano Ospina, and co-chairs Patricia Téllez-Girón, MD, and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff decided to use their resources and established network of volunteers to expand their efforts to address the gaps in COVID-19 health information and communication. The Council is ensuring that its community, which includes many essential workers, who are at greater risk for the virus, has information and materials available in Spanish. The group is using several platforms to reach community members, including social media, La Movida radio station, YouTube videos and brochures. Read more …