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Free COVID-19 testing eliminate some of the barriers immigrants face amid the pandemic

It's already been done on Buford Highway and in Gainesville. Next stop is Sandy Springs.

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — As COVID-19 testing continues to ramp up in Georgia, not everyone feels comfortable with the process. That's why some organizations have come together to make these tests more accessible. 

"They feel like they won't be able to have access to something really crucial," explained Maritza Morelli, the executive director for non-profit Los Ninos Primero. The organization works with hundreds of Hispanic and Latino families. 

One of the reasons Morelli said some immigrants are hesitant to get tested for the virus is because of certain requirements, such as an I.D. 

"One of the things that they have been facing is to have a proper I.D., and many of them, they don't," Morelli said. 

That's why organizations like the Latino Community Fund (LCF) and Los Ninos Primero have partnered to provide free COVID-19 testing in Sandy Springs over the weekend.

Credit: Provided

"One of the things that we also have to consider is that our Latino families, most of them live with other families," Morelli added, speaking of the importance of testing for the virus. 

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Last month, LCF and CORE, with the help of other organizations, offered free testing for the virus on Buford Highway and in Hall County, which was once a COVID-19 hot spot because of the poultry industry largely made up of immigrants.

Morelli said she believes offering the test for free will help the immigrant communities with some of the roadblocks they previously faced, such as costs during these uncertain times. This month, the Pew Research Center reported that, across the nation, immigrants saw a higher unemployment rate than U.S.-born workers during the pandemic.

"They have to decide: Where am I going to put my money on? In food or in testing? This is the reality of our families," she said. 

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Another barrier for some immigrants is language, especially specific medical terms, which is why Morelli said the testing site in Sandy Springs will have bilingual volunteers. 

"That makes them to be more open about things that they probably won't if they don't speak the language," Morelli added. 

She also said there is no need to make an appointment ahead of time. The free testing will take place June 26 through 28 at Centro Catolico del Espiritu on 120 Northwood Drive in Sandy Springs. 

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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