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Serving Refugees, Immigrants, & Migrants When Virtual Isn't Possible: A COVID-19 Outreach Event Checklist

Community health Worker speaking to participants


The challenges of reaching refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities (RIM communities) have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a time when it is even more apparent that communicating clearly, in a language the receiver fully understands, and with overall cultural relevancy, is crucial for the stability of entire communities, MCN’s new bilingual checklist outlines vital safety and promotion factors to consider and include before hosting an outreach event for vulnerable RIM communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While holding events virtually is recommended, some in-person events are necessary, especially those that provide needed services and care directly to communities. These events include food distribution, vaccination, COVID-19 testing, health screening, and health and safety training events. At these kinds of events, health care providers, public health staff, volunteers, and community members must interact safely with one another. Additionally, event organizers must consider language and cultural differences as part of the strategies needed to achieve collective goals.

The checklist offers key reminders of how to successfully reach RIM communities for contact-less event outreach, addressing topics that include culture, language, language literacy, visual image considerations, using trusted communication channels, and the inclusion of staff and volunteers who speak the participant’s language as well as interpreters. The checklist is available in Spanish and English.

The checklist also contains safety factors to consider prior to and during an event and includes details related to marketing, location selection, and event layout, planning for participant, staff, and volunteer safety, factors to consider when choosing staff, safety precautions for volunteer and staff breaks, and education initiatives, among other essential considerations. The checklist also provides links to other resources to reference when planning an event.

The checklist, created by MCN in partnership with The National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM), was inspired by MCN’s engagement in the COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations Task Force in Salisbury, Maryland, and the community outreach events they hold, in addition to MCN’s work with health departments and clinicians across the country and in Puerto Rico who have shared their expertise from the frontlines. These experiences have given MCN firsthand knowledge about the elements needed to safely hold impactful contact-less events that include RIM communities.

While each event environment, populations, and other unique elements must be considered, MCN’s new checklist offers a thorough summary of aspects that are necessary to consider to create an overall focus of safety surrounding events and a welcome and accessible environment for refugee, immigrant, and migrant populations. 

MCN partners with The National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM), funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide assistance and resources to state and local health departments working with refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. (Learn more at and sign up for their newsletter for their latest updates).


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