BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore officials on Friday announced a new initiative to help Latinx families in the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19: Prevention, Control and Support initiative will take a number of steps to prevent the spread of the virus among families for whom English is not a primary language, including enhancing bilingual messaging efforts, recruiting community members to educate their neighbors in hard-hit areas and helping connect people with health and financial resources.

COVID-19 cases are disproportionately higher in Latinx communities, making up 15% of total cases but only 5% of the city’s population, city officials said.

During a news conference Friday afternoon, Mayor Brandon Scott said the city has seen 28,848 COVID-19 cases and 586 deaths as of Thursday. Hospitals are at 86% capacity.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

Scott’s remarks came hours after the Restaurant Association of Maryland announced it was seeking legal action against the city and two counties over indoor and outdoor dining restrictions.

Earlier this month, Scott, on his first full day in office, announced a number of new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of indoor and outdoor dining. Those rules took effect at 5 p.m. on December 11.

Officials at multiple levels have urged people to stay home for the holidays to avoid spreading the virus, a message Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa reiterated Friday.

“Not feeling sick is not a good enough reason to endanger your family,” she said during the news conference.

Watch the full news conference below:

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff