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City of Boston expands COVID-19 text service to include 11 languages

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Our enhanced language capacity will target more than 37 percent of Boston residents that speak another language at home.

In an effort to ensure all of Boston's communities get timely and accurate information about COVID-19, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the City of Boston's text alert service is now available in Somali, Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Russian, in addition to English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, Cabo Verdean Creole, and Portuguese. Texts are sent daily with information such as Boston case numbers, local updates about the spread of the virus, preventative measures to mitigate the spread, and city resources. 

"It's important that the critical public health information we are sharing with our residents reaches every person in the language they speak so that collectively as a city we can be informed about the seriousness of this virus, and work together to stop its spread," said Mayor Walsh. "I am glad that we're further expanding our multilingual capacity by adding five additional languages to our text alert service." 

Residents can text BOSCOVID to the City of Boston's new number 888-777 to opt-in to alerts in English and the following keywords to opt-in to alerts in the languages below: 

  • Text BOSEspanol to 888-777 for Spanish
  • Text BOSKreyol to 888-777 for Haitian Creole
  • Text BOSFrancais to 888-777 for French
  • Text BOSKriolu to 888-777 for Cabo Verdean Creole
  • Text BOSPortugues to 888-777 for Portuguese
  • Text BOSSoomali to 888-777 for Somali
  • Text BOSChi to 888-777 for Simplified Chinese
  • Text BOSbilAraby to 888-777 for for Arabic
  • Text BOSViet to 888-777 for for Vietnamese 
  • Text BOSRus to 888-777 for for Russian

Residents who had previously subscribed under the former number used by the City will automatically continue receiving these text message alert updates, and there is no need to re-subscribe. Any resident who has questions is encouraged to call 311 to be connected with a telephonic interpreter, or through the Mayor's Health Line at (617) 534-5050. Updates in these languages can additionally be accessed through boston.gov/coronavirus#multilingual-help. Each language has its own page and hosts multilingual print materials distributed citywide: 

In addition to providing multilingual information via text alerts and Boston.gov, City of Boston employees and volunteers delivered printed information on COVID-19 to all homes in Boston in EnglishSpanishHaitian CreoleChineseVietnameseCabo Verdean Creole and Russian, with additional printed materials online in PortugueseArabic, and Somali. The City of Boston has also deployed sound trucks throughout the hardest-hit neighborhoods to encourage residents to stay healthy and safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Walsh, along with many City employees, have been doing weekly robocalls for thousands of Boston adults over 60 years of age in multiple languages. Bilingual members of Mayor Walsh's team have also been conducting interviews with ethnic media to relay information in multiple languages. The Mayor's press conferences have provided ASL interpretation and English captioning on live streams.

For more information on the City's response to COVID-19, please visit boston.gov/coronavirus.