Calls for better communication, translation services for new Americans

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 4:05 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont needs to invest in better communication and translation services for refugee communities to increase public health equity. That was the word from advocates and some lawmakers on Monday during a panel organized by Lt. Gov. Molly Gray.

Data shows Vermonters of color and refugee communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Advocates say refugees and new Americans need translators to get consistent, clear information about the pandemic.

And with President Biden expected to increase the number of refugees coming to the U.S. to more than 60,000, health disparities will only increase if they aren’t addressed.

“Our work shifted from helping new arrivals and helping them settle to responding to the critical needs. Many families are still being impacted by COVID-19 loss of employment, food insecurity, housing insecurity,” said Amila Merdzanovic, the director of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

Some Vermont lawmakers are also considering additional funding for translation services in a new stimulus package in the works.

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