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Boston delivers multilingual pamphlets on coronavirus to homes across city

Khoa Pham( left) explained the procedure for handing out pamphlets to volunteer Jeffrey Doucette, who lives in the Fields Corner area.
Khoa Pham( left) explained the procedure for handing out pamphlets to volunteer Jeffrey Doucette, who lives in the Fields Corner area.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

An army of about 1,000 city employees and volunteers set out to distribute multilingual information packets about the COVID-19 virus to every home in Boston on Saturday, informing residents about ways to avoid spreading the illness and about resources provided by the city, including sites to access food.

At Town Field in Dorchester, volunteers gathered around 9 a.m. to pick up reusable plastic shopping bags filled with heavy stacks of the packets, along with blue rubber gloves and hand sanitizer, before dispersing throughout the neighborhood.

They were asked to strictly follow the guidance of public health officials about keeping physical distance from others and told not to try to speak to residents, as they might ordinarily, but instead drop the packets on stoops and porches, inside vestibules, or between doors and their jambs, minimizing contact and interactions.

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And residents were asked not to step outside while the information was being dropped off — the city encouraged all Bostonians to physically distance themselves from others to help avoid spreading the virus.

Dorchester resident Jeffrey Doucette, 43, who has ample experience going door to door as a volunteer for political campaigns, said it was nice to get out and see his neighbors emerging from their homes on a beautiful day — even if he only saw most from across the street.

“A lot of people were very, very appreciative. It’s actually kind of nice that people are outside and being very neighborly,” he said by phone Saturday afternoon.

Instructed to avoid touching doorknobs or gate latches, Doucette rolled up some packets into tubes and inserted them into chain-link fences, he said, and left others under doormats.

Some who saw Doucette dropping off the packets called out from a distance, “Thank you for the information! We appreciate it!” he said. Neighbors who saw him approaching their homes promised to share the information with others in their households and apartment buildings.

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“It was nice to see people being willing to spread information that was being given out,” he said.

Doucette was touched by the gratitude and sense of community, he said, comparing it to the ways in which he has started being more appreciative of the barista who gives him his morning coffee and the cashiers at his local market.

“Hopefully that gratitude for what others are doing will be the lasting effect after this crisis is over,” he said.

The text in the packet includes information in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cape Verdean Creole, Haitian Creole, and Russian, according to the city. The city offers guidance and information on the new coronavirus in additional languages at Boston.gov/coronavirus, through the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050, and through interpreters available through the city’s 311 telephone service.

John Tlumacki of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.