COVID-19 Pandemic

Check out our COVID-19 video resources

Language Barriers

The ALHB conducted a language survey for the African immigrants and refugees in King County. The survey found that over 40 different African languages are spoken in the area. Many of these languages are not well known or represented. The lack of Covid-19 informational materials in their languages leads them to believe that Covid-19 is not a relevant problem to their specific community. This mindset has led to countless lives lost. 


The ALHB responded to this community need by creating short, captivating publications to spread important Covid-19 related health information in an effective, efficient way. The African Leaders Health Board created informational videos made in different styles to captivate different audiences and age groups. Publications and videos were made in the English, Kiswahili, Kuku, Neur, Yoruba, Igbo, and Twi languages.

The Digital Divide

When the Coronavirus arrived in 2020, the African Leaders Health Board began by conducting an assessment to determine what the current needs of the community were. The initial findings determined that seniors were suffering the most. The digital divide prevented them from navigating the transition to a virtual world. The ALHB provided iPads to seniors and taught them how to attend telehealth appointments. This technology was also used to help seniors stay connected to family and friends during this lonely period. They used the iPads to stay up to date on the latest government mandates and learn about tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19 like proper handwashing, maintaining social distance, and minimizing exposure to other people.

Essential Workers

A majority of African Immigrants and refugees work as Certified Medicine Assistants (CMA) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) in local hospitals, nursing homes, adult family homes, and doctors’ offices. Those outside of the healthcare field work in the front lines as retail workers, restaurant staff, or as child care providers. Their heroic work in these fields led to a disproportionate number of the population being affected by Covid-19. 

We worked with caregivers working in nursing and elderly homes in a research project titled ‘Sauti Yako (Your Voice)” that was funded by the University of Washington’s Population Health Initiative to assess their perceived health and economic risks of Covid-19. We conducted focus group discussions and individual interviews to directly hear from them about their needs and concerns. The African Leaders Health Board responded to these needs by distributing masks, gloves, sanitizers, covid tests, and cleaning supplies to those in need. We hosted Covid-19 vaccine clinics in the early morning and evenings to reach those that worked long hours.

Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy and disbelief regarding the severity of the Covid-19 virus has plagued the African immigrant community since the beginning of the pandemic. The biggest barriers keeping African immigrants and refugees from receiving the vaccine are misinformation and lack of access. The majority of the false narratives surrounding the vaccine in these communities originated from their home country and spread from there.

Virtual Discussions

The ALHB hosted a wide variety of virtual discussions that gave members of this community a safe space to ask questions and discuss hardships they were facing during this period. The sessions gave immigrants and refugees an opportunity to discuss these things amongst peers who speak the same language and understand what they are going through. We sent out tips on preventing the spread of COVID in ten different languages. We created a video encouraging African immigrants and refugees to stay home, avoid large gatherings, wear masks, and use proper hand-washing techniques. We also practiced one on one community engagement making sure all members of the community had a place to turn to.

Vaccine Clinics

Our organization is committed to making the COVID-19 vaccines readily available to members of the African immigrant and refugee community. By hosting the events in different counties and having health care professionals that speak African languages, we were able to reach members of the community and distribute the vaccine efficiently. We have hosted 8 different community vaccine clinics so far. These clinics were held in King and Snohomish counties.

Our Emergency Response

The African Immigrant and Refugee communities were greatly impacted by COVID-19. The African Leaders Health Board recognized this need and immediately responded. We began by doing a Health Assessment and Language Assessment to see what the communities true questions, requests, and needs were. Following the assessment, we hosted various virtual community conversations to answer questions that the community had and provide a platform for more questions to be asked and answered. We created publications for our social media pages to educate our community on the most common misconceptions regarding COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine.


As the pandemic progressed, new issues arose in the African Immigrant and Refugee community. Seniors struggled to attend telehealth appointments and communicate with family members who were social distancing or quarantining. The African Leaders Health Board provided seniors with ipads and educated them on how to use them to meet their needs. A mental health crisis began due to the stress of navigating life in a pandemic and all the other unforeseen effects of the pandemic. We created a mental health toolkit to educate families, friends, and community leaders on how to tackle the mental health crisis in the African community.


We formed the Cultural Navigator Team made up of individuals who speak various African languages and represent different African countries. These navigators served as liaisons between their various African communities and the ALHB team. They created videos and translated publications to make them more accessible for all Africans. They also assisted during the many vaccine clinics we hosted by serving as translators between healthcare professionals and community members.