Many Oregonians are following Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but some workers deemed essential by the federal government are exempt from that order. One of the most vulnerable of these workforces is made up of immigrant farmworkers.
As this population works through some of the unique challenges they face due to the coronavirus, one radio station is trying to help.
Radio La Ley's La Voz Del Pueblo broadcasts from Kennewick, Washington, serving mostly rural areas of Washington and Oregon. Their radio signal reaches Walla Walla, Washington, to the east and Boardman, Oregon, to the south. It recently switched its focus from local politics and the 2020 Census to sharing important information related to COVID-19 with its Spanish speaking listeners.
The new weekly series, Acción Rural Hispana, which airs Sunday mornings, was created by Jose Garcia, who co-hosts with Rafael Romero.
Garcia is also involved with several civic and advocacy groups, including the Oregon Rural Action. He and that group's Executive Director Kristin Anderson Ostrom and Community Organizer Ana Elisa Wilson wanted to create a better way to share coronavirus related news and information with Spanish speaking communities. So they came up with the idea for Acción Rural Hispana.
But Garcia and Wilson said the show has a special focus, and it's to educate and help inform one of the most vulnerable populations in the state — immigrant Farmworkers.
"When I would talk to people that I knew were working in the fields, they would say 'Hey they're not telling us anything, they don't want anything to do with that stuff," Garcia said.
This OPB story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.
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