St. Louis group helps COVID vaccine efforts for Hispanic, Spanish residents


ST. LOUIS – STL Juntos, or STL together, is a volunteer-based organization that started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“When the pandemic hit we realized people need the information in their language, that was a call for us to say we need to step up and we need to do this,” Lourdes Trevino Bailon, a cofounder of STL Juntos said.

“There’s always been a need for language access, when the pandemic came it brought more to light.”

This turned into a platform that reached thousands of Spanish Speakers across the St. Louis region every day. 

The founders of STL Juntos said they noticed a need to translate information about the COVID-19 pandemic into Spanish to make sure native-Spanish speakers understood what masking, a shutdown, and health orders meant.

Bailon said people were asking, “What am I supposed to do, can I go out, can I work, can I not work?”

So they saw a need in their community and filled it.

“So we began just translating all the information we were getting from the government,” Bailon said. “What ends up happening is that’s when you start with the misinformation because they didn’t understand something correctly and that happened a lot.

“So, it was very important to give them accurate information in their language so they can really understand what’s going on.”

They translated information, set up food distribution centers, made videos on how to wear a mask and why, and also worked with local governments to host vaccination events with local Spanish-speaking doctors. 

A total of 55 percent of the Hispanic or Latino Population in Missouri have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which is a higher percentage than the population of non-Hispanic or Latino residents in the Show-Me State.

Graphic from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services COVID-19 Dashboard

Luisa Otero Prada and her son are one of the hundreds who benefited from one of the nearly dozen vaccination events for Spanish speakers in St. Louis.

“Their idea is to help the Hispanic community as much as possible, so I feel very grateful,” Prada said.

Prada is also part of LatinX Arts STL, a group of artists painting a mural on Delmar.

“We wanted to bring hopeful and unity and love,” Eliana Cristancho, an artist with LatinX Arts STL said.

They came up with this idea more than a year ago during the border crisis.

“We couldn’t go to the border, we couldn’t, what could we do, so then we said let’s make a mural, or do some public art piece.”

They’ve been working on the side of the Delmar Loop Trolley building for more than two months. The mural is expected to be finished during Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept.15 through Oct. 15.

“It’s about learning who you are and where you come from a lot of these kids that are being raised in the united states may lose that especially in a place like St. Louis, so it is important for us as Latinos, Hispanics to build those communities,” Bailon said.

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