Sign language interpreters provide vital service during COVID-19 pandemic

All across Los Angeles County, families wait to get the latest answers on the COVID-19 pandemic. How long will the quarantine last? Has the number of cases spiked yet? What can we do to keep our loved ones safe against the deadly virus?

These daily briefings held at the County Hall of Administration
in downtown Los Angeles have become a "must-see" event for thousands of people.

If you're watching, you know the briefings are held in English first, while at the same time they are communicated in American Sign Language.

The two people you see to the side of the camera are Rorri Burton and Neil Cordova.

They are animated as they convey potentially life-saving information to the deaf community.

Burton told FOX 11 that there's a reason for their dramatic expressions. In ASL you use your face and body to express emotion and meaning.

She says people recognize her on the street and in the supermarket because of these daily briefings and their high profile. They call her "that signing lady." 

Back at the briefing, Burton and Cordova are signing information that's deemed critical from such heavy hitters as Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer and County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

For Burton and Cordova, the technical nature of the briefings sometimes means an on the job primer for medical terms such as serology and antibody.

"I have to make sure I understand it so I can convey it to the deaf community," said Cordova.

Burton has been signing for twelve years. She said it was her mother's interest in it, that sparked her own. She finds the public service they offer enormously gratifying.

As for Cordova, he communicates in three languages: English, Spanish, and ASL. And can be seen translating in Spanish after the English portion is complete. He says sometimes all three languages are ruminating in his head at once!