May 22, 2020

A project to assess and address the need for public health messages dealing with the coronavirus outbreak and targeted to Latino immigrants in Yakima County recently received a UW Population Health Initiative COVID-19 rapid response grant. 

School Associate Professor Gino Aisenberg, co-director of the Latino Center for Health, is one of the team’s six co-investigators. The Latino Center for Health, based at the School of Social Work, collaborates across the six UW health sciences schools.

Thousands of domestic and migrant farmworkers are arriving in the Northwest for the growing season, many from other countries. Because these workers live in dense temporary housing, there is an immediate need for accurate and culturally appropriate public health messages about COVID-19. The research team intends to amplify ongoing efforts to build occupational safety and health messages, using an approach that identifies and filters scientifically sound messages. 

COVID-19 communications for this population might include public service announcements, radio spots, social media posts and infographics. Team members will also document what they learn about emergency communication in rural agricultural communities. The findings will have both regional and national impact, leveraging both the networks of the co-investigators and the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center’s cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to Aisenberg, team investigators include faculty from the UW departments of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Communication, and Medicine as well as researchers from Environmental and Forest Sciences and El Proyecto Bienestar. 

A total of 21 faculty-led teams representing 10 different schools and colleges at the UW received $350,000 in COVID-19 rapid response grants. With matching funds, the total value of the awards amounted to about $820,000.  The grants are intended to rapidly accelerate, or jumpstart, research that addresses a range of population health-related challenges created by the pandemic. The award process itself was fast-tracked, with grant applications due April 16 and awards made April 30.