Latino leaders cite need for more COVID-19 testing in suburbs

  • A member of Illinois National Guard signals to a driver at the COVID-19 testing site in Waukegan. Latino community leaders are urging more testing facilities in suburbs with large Latino populations that have been hit particularly hard by the virus.

    A member of Illinois National Guard signals to a driver at the COVID-19 testing site in Waukegan. Latino community leaders are urging more testing facilities in suburbs with large Latino populations that have been hit particularly hard by the virus. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

  • State Sen. Cristina Castro

    State Sen. Cristina Castro

  • State Rep. Karina Villa

    State Rep. Karina Villa

 
 
Posted5/18/2020 5:30 AM

Suburban Latino community leaders and lawmakers are calling for increased access to COVID-19 testing and screening sites, bilingual and cultural contact tracing, personal protective equipment and education to help stem community spread of the virus.

"Regardless of citizenship status, people need to be tested," said state Sen. Cristina Castro of Elgin, whose 22nd District is 43% Latino.

 

In Kane County, Latinos represent about 47.1% of confirmed COVID-19 cases and roughly 32% of the county's population.

Castro wants another drive-through testing center in Elgin or near northeastern Kane County, like the site at Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora. Testing currently is available by appointment at the Greater Elgin Family Care Center's offices, Visiting Nurse Association and Amita Health St. Joseph Hospital, both in Elgin, and Aunt Martha's Carpentersville Community Health Center.

Several DuPage County communities are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Latinos comprise 27.6% of the county's confirmed cases and 14.5% of its population.

State Rep. Karina Villa of West Chicago, whose 49th District is home to more than 350 manufacturing facilities, said many Latino factory workers are reporting poor social distancing practices and lack of protective gear or hand sanitizers at their workplaces.

In late April, state authorities rolled out COVID-19 operational guidance for food and meat processing facilities and workplaces with assembly lines, but Villa said compliance is spotty.

"The guidelines are great, (but) I have not yet seen the trickle effect of it," Villa said. "The onus is on the factory. There are some very good actors, factories that are doing what is right by their employees. Others are seeing the Latino factory workers as ubhuman and putting process over people."

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