Latino Leader In Rural Georgia Guides Community Through Pandemic With Social Media

Gyla Gonzalez with Latinos Unidos of Carroll County stays connected with her community through Facebook during the coronavirus pandemic.

Latinos Unidos of Carroll County serves about 2,000 people. The group maintains a small health clinic and organizes activities for the Latino community.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the clinic had to shut down as it’s not equipped to handle COVID-19 cases.

Latinos Unidos executive director Gyla Gonzalez found a way to stay connected to her community through Facebook, where she often translates important information into Spanish.

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“In addition to the clinic, we are also an organization that helps be a bridge between all the communities. So, every information that is given in English, I always give it Spanish,” she said.

Gonzalez has a good relationship with Tanner Health Systems, which runs Carrollton’s largest hospital.

She’s told her community to stay home, practice social distancing and monitor for signs of COVID-19, all through Facebook Live.

“During this time, it’s perfect because it is safe, but at the same time, it’s the perfect way for me to be able to communicate to them what they need to be doing.”

Latinos Unidos serves everyone, she says, regardless of legal status.  She’s been getting a lot of calls from people who are undocumented and lost their jobs. She’s also fielded calls from people who have documents and need to apply for unemployment for the first time.

“There is a process that you have to follow, and if you don’t know the English language, it’s a deterrent for them,” Gonzalez said.

She’s also fielded calls from people who can’t read or write, in which case she will send them a recording.

Because Gonzalez lives with her 80-year-old mother, she won’t leave her home at all, and guiding her community through this crisis is giving her some perspective.

She says people should value health and family, and she hopes the coronavirus makes us all better human beings.

“If this is not teaching us something, nothing will,” she said.