Lalo Alcaraz, the Artist Fighting COVID Misinformation, One Cartoon at a Time

Lalo Alcaraz COVID BELatina Latinx
Photo: Lalo Alcaraz Instagram (@laloalcaraz1)

One of the most serious threats to the Latino community is misinformation. From political campaigns to the inherent lack of communication, communities like ours have always been exposed to manipulation of information.

As far as the pandemic is concerned, and considering the historical history of medical experiments that our community has been subjected to for centuries, the lack of trust in information has been a serious problem that has put millions of Latinos at risk.

That is why Chicano artist Lalo Alcaraz has joined forces with social scientist Gilberto Lopez to launch the project COVID Latino, a campaign to spread pandemic-related information in the Latino community and fight misinformation.

As reported by Axios, COVID Latino aims to disseminate COVID-related information to Latinos through art and social media posts that prominently feature visual elements of Latino culture, with an emphasis on the Southwest.

Alcaraz told Axios that he believes Latinos are underserved medically and educationally, adding that they are often “targeted for misinformation, and consequently have lower rates of vaccination.”

The Los Angeles-based artist, best known for his participation in Nickelodeon’s “The Casagrandes” and the Pixar movie “Coco,” has used his talent to raise awareness in the Latino community about politics and social issues. Now, considering that during the first wave of the pandemic, the hospitalization rate for Latinos was five times higher than that of white Americans, Alcaraz has taken on a community vaccination campaign.

As CovidLatino’s lead artist, his art helps address the widespread vaccine hesitancy and misinformation circulating in California’s Latino communities.

As explained by the California Healthline platform, community health organizations have struggled to provide booster vaccines to the Latino community, whose members account for more than half of the coronavirus cases in California. 

As of September, about 80% of eligible Latinos had received at least one vaccine, the same percentage as whites. But of the 23.4 million people over age 65 who had received a booster dose as of Dec. 13, only 7.8% were Latinos (representing nearly 10% of that age group), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Latinos in other age groups also did not receive a booster dose.

“Latinos don’t know who to turn to for accurate information,” Gilberto Lopez told the platform. “The government hasn’t been doing the best job, the big national TV channels haven’t been doing that good of a job, and community organizations are working at a hyper-local level.”

That’s why advocates have turned to cartoons and caricatures to take the campaign to another level.

“We want people to see themselves and their families reflected in these images and maybe do a double-take and think twice about their own family’s situation,” said Lalo Alcaraz. “Maybe it changes their mind about the vaccine.”