Medical providers reach out to LA's immigrant community amid coronavirus concerns

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Preventing the exponential spread of the novel coronavirus hinges on reliable information and access to medical care.

"We're here today to make sure that folks understand that this public crisis is one that should not be looked through an immigration lens but an everybody lens," said Apolonio Morales, external affairs director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

A coalition of health care providers and non-profits is reaching out to immigrants who may be apprehensive to seek help. A new public charge rule that would limit who can get a green card based on the use of government benefits went into effect last month.

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"It is absolutely imperative that our federal government halt the public charge rule, because even though it impacts only a sliver of people in Los Angeles, it is causing fear," said Louise McCarthy, president of the Community Clinic Association of L.A. County. "We can find way to get you services without jeopardizing your status and your ability to become a citizen."

McCarthy expects to see funding come down to local clinics from an $8.3. billion coronavirus package President Donald Trump signed. Community clinic operators said funding is critical.

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"So we can continue not only providing the current services but to be prepared for what's coming in the next weeks," said Carlos Vaquerano, Executive Director of Clinica Msr. Oscar A. Romero.

On Monday morning, clinic employees distributed hand sanitizer and flyers with coronavirus facts.

"We came for our physicals and then we stopped right here to get more information about the coronavirus," said Jacqueline Delfin, who was there with her young daughters.

Access to information in multiple languages is also fundamental.

"It is important that all of our community partners, that's our churches, that's our community-based organizations... everybody here is able to communicate these messages to reduce panic," said McCarthy.
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