Harrisonburg translates COVID-19 regulations into various languages

When COVID-19 hit the Friendly City, the diverse community of Harrisonburg was struggling to get important information regarding the pandemic. To combat this, Harrisonburg created a Rapid Response Team of volunteer translators and interpreters.

Harrisonburg speaks over 60 languages, and the campaign reached out to translate in six languages: Spanish, Arabic, Kurdish, Russian, Swahili, and French. They narrowed the translations to six languages based on its popularity of the area and where COVID-19 cases were increasing.

With the translations and interpretations, questions and information about the pandemic spread through social media and flyers. The translators and interpreters would go on social media and record messages to reach out to specific communities in that language.

One hundred and fifty thousand people were reached through Facebook, 46,000 through flyers and 15,000 through school lunch flyers. The translators and interpreters would also go to testing and vaccination sites to help those in the community understand the process and answer questions.

The City of Harrisonburg is planning on doing more translation and having more interpreters in the future. Harrisonburg already has a language request for an interpreter at City Council forms but is looking to get translations for city documents and a copy service guide.