Office of Refugee Resettlement Refugee Program Physical and Behavioral Health – COVID-19 Information Dissemination

In March 2020, the International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis (IISTL) in Missouri identified the need to provide public health and related COVID-19 information to area refugees in their primary languages. Although some federal resources were available in multiple languages, state and local information was mainly offered in English and Spanish. To address this, IISTL repurposed their automated call system. Prior to the pandemic, the agency used the system internally to communicate the status of agency operations (e.g., delayed openings or closings due to inclement weather) to staff members and clients who call the agency’s main number. Since the pandemic, IISTL has used the call system to communicate externally with refugees in eight different languages. Over time, IISTL’s messages have become a trusted source of information for refugees.