coronavirus illinois

Latinx Community Testing Positive at Higher Rate Than Any Other Group in Illinois

"Many of us are unable to stay home because we work in essential areas of the economy," said Dr. Marina Del Rios

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The Latinx community in Illinois is testing positive for coronavirus at a higher rate than any other demographic group in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday.

According to state data, nearly 60 percent of those identifying as Latinx who have been tested for COVID-19 have tested positive.

Pritzker noted that while half of those tested did not fill out their demographic information, 26,000 of those tested so far self-identified as Hispanic. Of those, nearly 16,000 have tested positive.

"That’s a positivity rate of 60 percent – more than three times our state average," Pritzker said.

The numbers are similar in Chicago, where officials reported a sharp rise in cases among the Latinx community.

The Chicago Department of Public Health has documented a surge in coronavirus cases in the city’s Latinx community, which now represents 37 percent of the city’s total cases, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday.

"We are seeing a surge in cases among our Latinx residents," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday, adding that in the last month, numbers in the community have more than doubled.

Four weeks ago, the Latinx community represented 14% of cases and 19% of deaths in Chicago. As of Wednesday, those numbers jumped to 37% and 25%, respectively.

In addition, ZIP codes with the highest number of cases in Chicago include many of the city's largely Hispanic neighborhoods.

"Many of us are unable to stay home because we work in essential areas of the economy," said Dr. Marina Del Rios, director of Social Emergency Medicine and associate professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

State and Chicago health officials said that numbers in the Latinx community are expected to rise and additional deaths are likely.

Chicago’s Latinx community now represents 37 percent of the city’s total coronavirus cases, up from 14 percent about four weeks ago, Dr. Arwady said Wednesday, representing a clear surge among Latinx residents.

"We recognize that for many of us, taking a day off of work can have financial repercussions," Rios said. "If you have any symptoms take time off of work and seek attention immediately."

Health officials attributed part of the Chicago surge to an increase in testing and an adjustment for numbers that may have previously been underreported.

At the same time, more than 50% of the city's deaths are among black, non-Latinx residents, data showed.

"Nothing about this is OK," Lightfoot said. "And we can never allow ourselves to think that it is."

Meanwhile, Illinois reported another 136 deaths and 2,270 confirmed cases Wednesday.

That lifts the state's death toll from the virus near 3,000 with 68,232 total cases. Of the total cases in Illinois, 4,832 individuals remained hospitalized, with 1,231 in intensive care and 780 on ventilators.

In the last 24 hours, nearly 15,000 tests were administered, bringing the total number of tests statewide to 361,260. That dropped the state's positivity rate below 19 percent Wednesday as the state remains in its second phase of reopening.

During his Wednesday coronavirus press briefing, Pritzker said that a recent rise in racial profiling incidents related to wearing masks has to be stopped, and that store workers, police officers, and Illinois residents must guard against making dangerous assumptions about fellow community members. 

“I want to call on the public to help us stop these hateful incidents by speaking out and standing up for others in your community,” Pritzker said. “If you witness or experience mask-related discrimination, or discrimination of any kind, please report the incident to the Illinois Department of Human Rights.” 

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