Latinos represent highest number of COVID-19 confirmed cases
Latinos represent the largest segment -- 23% -- of confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide, according to the latest Illinois Department of Public Health data.
And suburban leaders are calling for more testing in Latino communities.
The Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative, a coalition of more than 50 elected officials, stakeholders and health professionals, is urging immediate dialogue and partnership with state and local governments to raise testing rates.
Officials are concerned the Latino community may be underreported in the numbers of both COVID-19 cases and deaths due to exclusion of race and ethnicity data and gaps in data collection. Race wasn't listed for a quarter of those tested, while among those identified by race, blacks and whites ranked just behind Latinos.
"There are legitimate concerns that the Latino community is being undercounted," said state Sen. Cristina Castro of Elgin, whose 22nd District is 43% Latino.
State data also shows nearly 65% of Latinos tested are infected with the virus -- the highest percentage among all racial or ethnic groups. The proportions are nearly 20% for whites, nearly 37% for blacks and nearly 34% among Asians.
Factory worker safety: State Rep. Karina Villa of West Chicago says she is concerned about health and safety issues at the more than 350 manufacturing facilities in her 49th district.
Villa's office has fielded dozens of phone calls, Facebook messages and emails from "scared Latino factory workers" complaining about the lack of social distancing, personal protective gear for workers, and hand sanitizer in many DuPage County factories.
"They are working elbow-to-elbow," Villa said. "The stories that I've received have been numerous and alarming."
Some of the first COVID-19 cases happened in Villa's hometown of West Chicago at Jel Sert Co. The company halted manufacturing for a week on April 3 after at least six workers tested positive and some employees self-quarantined.
Helping asylum-seekers: Two suburban nonprofits raised $30,000 in one week to support migrant men, women and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.
Viator House of Hospitality and Bethany House of Hospitality run safe houses in the Northwest suburbs. Viator House shelters 20 young men -- a majority of Muslim faith -- and Bethany House cares for 12 young women and three children. They represent more than 18 countries and four religions.
"Due to COVID-19 the need is far greater and the hope is to go above and beyond the (initial) goal," said Anisha Ismail Patel, of Arlington Heights, a Viator House board trustee. "The money raised will be used to support college education, a family emergency fund and general needs."
During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, three weekly dinners are being provided at both homes. Each resident also will receive Eid gifts at the end of the monthlong fasting observance.
Multilingual census PSAs: Bolingbrook-based American Association of Retired Asians has launched a series of multilingual 2020 Census public service announcement videos emphasizing the importance of being counted in Gujarati, Hindi, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Urdu.
"When more than one-third of Cook County residents speak a language other than English at home, it's important that we reach out to our communities through trusted voices and in their preferred language," Morrison said.
With the COVID-19 lockdown, community groups are relying on PSAs, videos and social media to reach hard-to-count populations. The PSA campaign targets historically undercounted communities with limited-English proficiency within Morrison's 15th District, which includes Barrington Hills, Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Streamwood, South Barrington and portions of Barrington, Bartlett, East Dundee, Elgin and Roselle.
"A lot of times we have had people use census data to say that our community is not very big in Cook County," AARA Executive Director Talat Khan said. "We know that it's not true, and the 2020 Census is a chance for us to make sure the whole community is seen and counted."
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