Pritzker, Lightfoot raise concern over growing COVID-19 cases in Latinx communities
State and Chicago officials raised alarm Wednesday on the growing number of COVID-19 cases reported in the Latinx community.
Gov. JB Pritzker said during his daily press conference that about 60 percent of 26,000 known Latinx Illinoisans who have been tested have been positive for the virus. The state average for positives among those tested is 20 percent.
He said the data “shines a concerning spotlight” on which Illinoisans are most likely to get sick from the virus.
“Decades of institutional inequities and obstacles for members of our Latinx communities are now amplified in this pandemic,” he said. “And while we can’t fix generations of history in the span of a few months, we must advance equity in our public health response today, everywhere and anywhere we can.”
Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike highlighted resources available for Latinx and other communities, including free testing available at participating federally qualified health centers. Those tests are available regardless of insurance or citizenship status.
Both also announced the state would begin testing partnerships in areas around the state, focusing on communities with significant populations most vulnerable to the virus.
“I urge trusted community leaders to help get the word out there about available COVID-19 testing,” Ezike said.
Latinx makes up 17 percent of the state’s population.
There were 136 statewide COVID-19 deaths reported on Wednesday, bringing Illinois’ death toll to 2,974.
Forty-two percent of those who died have been white, while African Americans make up 37 percent, Latinx make up 15 percent and Asians make up 4 percent.
Officials announced 2,270 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 68,232 cases in 97 counties.
A total of 361,260 tests have been completed.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced during an earlier press conference that Latinx Chicagoans now make up 37 percent of the city’s COVID-19 cases and 25 percent of its deaths.
Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said both numbers are likely to increase as testing expands.
“I would expect that we may see more deaths in the Latinx community as a percentage than we’ve seen,” she said.
To address the issue, Lightfoot said the city would launch a multilingual digital and video campaign and distribute thousands of postcards and door-hangers to educate residents in at-risk communities.
Twenty-nine percent of the city’s population is Latinx.
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