Illinois Unidos urges Biden Administration to Take Additional Policy Actions

September 15, 2021 (Chicago) – President Biden’s recent announcement on new policy actions to combat COVID-19 is an essential step in protecting the health and well-being of the nation. Illinois Unidos, a coalition of over 100 Illinois elected and appointed officials, stakeholders, health professionals, academicians, and representatives of community-based organizations, supports the administration’s renewed measures, but vaccination is not the silver bullet; we must also focus on eradicating COVID-19.  

September 15th marks the beginning of Latino Heritage Month.  It is a singular moment to honor Latinos’ significant contributions to the nation’s economic, social, cultural, and political life.  We celebrate the health and medical professionals working long hours and days and providing compassionate care to those stricken with COVID-19.  We are grateful for their caring spirit and service.  

We also appreciate the nonprofits, community clinics, faith-based groups, and congregations providing essential human resources and health assistance to Latino families, including testing and vaccination services.  Throughout Latino Heritage Month,  Illinois Unidos members will be holding vaccination days targeting the elderly, families, teenagers (12 and up ages), and young adults (see attached information).  These activities will increase the rate of Latinos who are tested and vaccinated.   

We concur with President Biden’s emphasis on the importance of having healthy communities and a protected and safe workforce.  This affirmation is critical because Latinos comprise a significant portion of the country’s workforce, often employed as essential workers in high-contact industries (e.g., hospitality, domestic help, food and beverages, and others).   Illinois Unidos supports the administration’s additional measures such as vaccination for health care providers and hospitals who participate in  Medicare and Medicaid programs,  federal employees, Head Start programs, the Department of Defense Schools, and the Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools.  Ensuring public health and safety is evident in the President’s actions,  but the devastating impact in communities of color requires added comprehensive efforts.  Illinois Unidos, therefore, urges further actions by federal, state, county, and city governments.  Specifically, we call on the Biden Administration and local governments to: 

Testing and Vaccination

  • Require testing and vaccination in all public, private, and parochial schools (faculty, staff, volunteers, and so forth).
  • Require testing and vaccination for all staff and volunteers in child care centers and childcare providers programs.

Public Health

  • Mandate the use of masks and physical distancing protocols in open spaces, at public events, and gatherings in which vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons may come into contact.  All public events should require proof of vaccination. 
  • Increase data transparency, particularly for school and workplace outbreaks, and share the mitigating actions to address such outbreaks.
  • Increasing contact tracing personnel, particularly as the delta variant (and emerging variants) requires immediate attention to minimize hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID.
  • Address the care of COVID long haulers by allocating funds that support their recovery.

Schools, Students, and Safety

  • Offer Virtual Learning Option to all students.
  • Ventilate all schools and implement protections to safeguard the safety of students, faculty, teaching staff, maintenance crews volunteers, and parents

Workforce Safety

  • Ensure the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new rules require all employers  (regardless of the number of employees) to have a fully vaccinated workforce, and allow employees to use paid work hours to receive the vaccination. 
  • Incentivize testing and vaccination opportunities for private and public employers by partnering with medical providers, providing transportation for employees to testing and vaccination sites, and other ways to increase workforce vaccination rates. 
  • Simplify the process to help Latino businesses access the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Process.

Throughout Latino Heritage Month, members of Illinois Unidos are conducting vaccination activities, several of these are listed below:

Centro San Bonifacio

Thursday, September 23 | 10 am – 12 pm | 2959 N. Pulaski  (60641) For further information:  773-453-5327 | Free vaccine, tamales and Cafecito!

Enlace of Chicago and Rush Medical

September 15, 22 and 29 | 10:30am – 4pm

2311 S. Washtenaw Avenue (60608) Contact Persons: Jadhira Sanchez and Monica Cuevas | For further information:  773-247-6645

Consulado General de México en Chicago | Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago | Monday, September 20 and 27 | 9 am – 2 pm | 204 S. Ashland Avenue (60607)

For further information:  312-784-9899