Samoan language experts for COVID-19 response

The American city and county of Honolulu, Hawai’i is hiring Samoan language speakers to serve as bilingual helpline specialists to aid the city’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

This is according to a report this week from news site Civil Beat.

The search for Samoan language translators is part of the city’s effort to improve its outreach to the Pacific Islander community, Civil Beat reports.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration recently hired Shanty Asher to serve as a liaison to the Pacific Islander community, the first Pacific Islander on Caldwell’s staff.

The city is funding a new help line at We Are Oceania [W.A.O.]. 

The non-profit W.A.O. organisation is hiring bilingual specialists to help answer calls in seven Pacific Islander languages: Samoan, Chuukese, Marshallese, Kosraean, Yapese, Pohnpeian and Palauan.

Staffing company Altres says W.A.O. “is assisting [...] communities in Hawaii with COVID related information and resources.”

“They are looking for qualified people, who can work in-office as a Helpline Specialist in any of the following languages: Kosraean, Yapese, Pohnpeian, Palauan, or Samoan,” Altres adds.

The full-time bilingual specialist positions will start as soon as possible and go through the end of the year.

One of the duties, according to an Altres posting is to “respond to and provide appropriate information and intervention for COVID-19 calls.”

According to the Civil Beat report on 12 October, more than half of COVID-19 race data is currently missing, but the information that is available shows that Pacific Islanders — excluding native Hawaiians — and Filipinos are still experiencing disproportionately high infection rates.

Between 23 August and 24 September Pacific Islanders accounted for 610 known cases of the disease, with a rate of 108 cases per 10,000 people. 

Filipinos reported even more cases during the same time period of 636 but because they have a higher population in Hawaii their rate of infection was nearly four times lower at 29 cases per 10,000 population.

The population of Samoans in Hawaii is 37,463 according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

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