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The Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative, a coalition of over 50 Illinois Elected Officials, Stakeholders and Health professionals call for partnership with the State, County, and City to deal with the surge of COVID-19 cases in the Latino community.

Chicago, IL – The Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative, a coalition of over 50 Illinois Elected Officials, Stakeholders and Health professionals are calling for immediate dialogue and partnership with state and local governments after data from the Illinois Department of Public Health released today showed the Latino community has the largest proportion of positive tests despite having lower testing rates than other population groups, and is now trending to become the largest group in Illinois with positive COVID-19 cases.

Not only does this data show Latinos trending upward in positive cases, there are legitimate concerns that the Latino community is being undercounted in many aspects of data collection on  how it is reported both in the number of COVID-19 cases and in the number of deaths. This could be due to a lack of inclusion of race and ethnicity data, gaps in data collection, and outdated segregation of sociodemographic data. Significantly, the data disclosed today indicate that over 60% of Latinos/Latinx who have been tested, are infected with COVID-19. This percentage is the highest among all groups. It is likely that the majority of Latinos tested are already experiencing severe symptoms before they are tested.  

TestedPositivePositive as % tested
White63,72612,27619.26%
Black31,08311,35336.52%
Hispanic19,04811,84862.20%
Other12,1972,08717.11%
Asian5,3901,82633.88%
Left Blank138,07313,3939.70%

Data form 4.30.2020: https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/covid19-statistics

As the number of cases of COVID19 continues to rise in Latino communities, so too will the rates of deaths and disabilities resulting from the disease. Many Latinos delay seeking medical care because of a lack of health insurance, unable to understand how to access the public and private insurance system, concerns about the economic and legal impact of their immigration status, or concerns that they will not be able to continue to work and provide for their families if they test positive. 

Since forming, the Illinois Latino Covid-19 Initiative has released data about emerging hotspots of COVID-19 in Latinx communities and articulated recommendations to help stop the spread of the disease. Furthermore, the initiative articulated concerns over lack of testing sites in Latino communities and lack of information about how contact-tracing is being conducted in our community. 

This pandemic did not create health disparities for Latinos, but it is shining a light on what we have known.  For decades we have been working to end the inequities in health and access to economic opportunities for black, brown, immigrant, and low-income communities. We have demanded that the lives of our families be valued through concerted investments in economic fairness, universal health care and linguistic and cultural inclusivity. Our health outcomes should not be determined by zip code, last name, or country of origin. Our city and state officials have been listening to our concerns, but it’s time to turn words into action,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “This is why I introduced the Health Equities and Accountability Act in Congress this week. It’s time for a new approach that recognizes the inequity in conditions and brings justice to our communities.”

“There is a paucity of reliable, bilingual and culturally appropriate educational materials to inform the public about when to seek emergency medical care and when it is safe to stay home when diagnosed with COVID-19. There is also a scarcity of bilingual staff and interpreters to evaluate patients in urgent and emergency care centers and to ensure close follow up for Spanish-speaking patients identified as safe to be discharged home. When patients finally return, they are already in a critically advanced stage of the illness often leading to death. said Dr. Marina Del Rios, an emergency physician and member of the initiative. 

There is a need to increase the capacity of recognized and trusted advocates in the community who have a network of community-based organizations with bilingual and bicultural staff, including community health workers. And also train staff at testing sites on how to gather complete and accurate information that represents ethnicity and other key factors to understand the dimension and course of the epidemic in various communities.

“We look forward to working in partnership in the planning, development, and implementation of culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies, and to meeting with government officials to engage in strategies that prevent, mitigate and stop the spread of coronavirus and to avoid the unnecessary corona-related deaths,” said Aida Giachello, Ph.D., member of the initiative and research faculty at Northwestern University.

The Latino COVID-19 Initiative is a consortium of over 50 Latino elected and appointed officials, together with health professionals, and representatives of professionals and community-based organizations. The initiative aims to present one united voice in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our communities while addressing related public health issues and the devastating economic impact of COVID-19. 

The Initiative as a group has continued to expand and has established bilingual (Spanish) website IllinoisUnidos.com to share our work, and COVID-19 related resources with the public, particularly, the Latinx community.

Current members of the Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative (Group will continue to expand)

Names in bold have signed off on this communication.

Dr. Aida Giachello – Northwestern University, Dept of Preventive Medicine

Dr. Patricia Canessa, MA,MBA, PhD- Illinois Public Health Association

Dr. Marina Del Rios – University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Emergency Medicine 

Sylvia Puente – Latino Policy Forum

Dr. Tina Pacione-Zayas – The Puerto Rican Agenda

Juan Calderon – Chicago Board of Health

Eddy Borrayo – Rincon Family Services

Esther Corpuz – Alivio Medical Center

Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García

State Senator Cristina Castro 

State Senator Iris Martinez

State Senator Celina Villanueva

State Senator Omar Aquino

State Representative Fred Crespo

State Representative Eva-Dina Delgado

State Representative Edgar Gonzalez, Jr.

State Representative Will Guzzardi

State Representative Lisa Hernandez

State Representative Barbara Hernandez

State Representative Theresa Mah

State Representative Aaron Ortiz

State Representative Delia Ramirez

State Representative Karina Villa

Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya

Hon. Jesse G. Reyes, President of the Diversity Scholarship Foundation

Hanover Park Municipal Clerk Eira Corral Sepulveda 

Chicago Alderman George Cardenas

Chicago Alderman Felix Cardona

Chicago Alderman Daniel LaSpata

Chicago Alderman Roberto Maldonado

Chicago Alderman Michael Rodriguez

Chicago Alderman Rossanna Rodriguez

Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa 

Chicago Alderman Susan Sadowski-Garza

Chicago Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez

Chicago Alderman Andre Vasquez

Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas

Elgin Alderman Baldemar Lopez

Jose A. Rivera Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff – President Preckwinkle 

Reyna Torres Mendivil – Cónsul General of México 

Bill Munoz Miranda – Consul General de Guatemala

Ruben D. Feliciano – Rincon Family Service

Laura Leon, Trinidad Lutheran Church

Xavier Nogueras – BOCA Media Group (Contact – info@bocamediagroup.com)

Cesar Rolon – Imagen Marketing (Contact – crolon@imagenconsultants.com)