From information about testing sites to financial support and food donations, Latinos are looking on Instagram and Facebook for help.
Latinos have historically used mobile devices more than any other ethnic group in the U.S., so it’s no surprise that during the pandemic, social media is their go-to for news related to COVID-19. A new report by Nielsen shows that Hispanics are 57% more likely to use social media platforms as a primary source of information about the coronavirus compared with non-Hispanics.
Before the pandemic began, Latino Community Fund (LCF), a nonprofit in Georgia that supports other Latino-forward organizations and startups, used their social media platforms for generic education and support of the Latino community. But since March, they’ve been focusing on keeping the Latino community informed on the elections and COVID-19 news.
Gilda “Gigi” Pedraza, Executive Director and Founder of LCF, said she has seen an increase in new followers and says Latinos are mainly concerned with knowing their rights amid the pandemic.
“The most popular questions that we’re seeing are about their rights,” Pedraza said to The Americano. “When they go to a hospital, their housing rights, unlawful evictions.”
Pedraza said Latinos are also concerned about how COVID-19 spreads. Latinos are asking LCF questions like whether or not the novel coronavirus can be transmitted through breast milk, and how to properly isolate.
The questions also extend to the 2020 elections. According to Pedraza, their users are asking about information regarding their civic participation, including how to navigate the elections, and ballot information.
Similarly, a recent poll conducted by UnidosUS, a national Latino advocacy group, and SOMOS Community Care, revealed that Latinos are primarily concerned with two things right now: the upcoming election and COVID-19. The results showed that 47% of Latinos are interested in how the president and Congress are handling COVID-19, and 55% said they are closely following the news about coronavirus.
Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, President & CEO of El Centro Hispano in North Carolina, told The Americano that the Latino community in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, is reaching out to them more often via telephone, Facebook messenger, and emails through their website.
“It’s mainly questions like ‘I need help with rent, utilities, food, sometimes lawyers,'” Rocha-Goldberg said. “So, yes, we’ve seen an increment.”
She adds that their followers are also engaging with those in their network through social media by sharing news with each other and commenting.
“If we post something about food donations, they’ll ask us about how to register and they are also asking about COVID-19 testing sites,” Rocha-Goldberg said.
The recent Nielsen data also showed that 98% of Latinos own a smartphone, compared to 93% of the general non-Latino population. Furthermore, 93% of Latinos spend an average of more than 30 hours per week on their smartphones, which surpasses their consumption on any other device, including television.