Governor Pritzker highlights efforts to mitigate COVID-19 in Illinois’ Latino communities

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information provided by the Office of the Governor

CHICAGO, Ill. (May 6, 2020) – At his Wednesday afternoon press briefing, Governor Pritzker highlighted several measures designed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in Illinois’ Latino communities.

“While we can’t fix generations of history in the span of a few months, we must advance equity in our public health response everywhere and anywhere we can,” said Pritzker. “The Latino community is the Illinois community. We are in these fights, all of these fights, together.”

In Illinois, 26,517 individuals who have been tested for COVID-19 to date checked the box for Hispanic. Of these 26,517 individuals, 15,959 have tested positive for COVID-19. A positivity rate of 60 percent, nearly three times the state’s average.

Testing Sites & Medical Access

The administration has prioritized establishing testing partnerships in as many areas around Illinois as possible, with a focus on communities with significant populations who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

As a result, Illinois now has over 200 public testing sites, 66 of which are located in communities with a significant Latino population. The administration sought to proactively focus and form partnerships with community health centers that prioritize accessible services and are often home to bilingual staff, such as Alivio Health Center, Erie Family Health Center, VNA Healthcare, Esperanza Health, Howard Brown and Greater Elgin Family Care Center. To locate a testing site, please visit https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/testing-sites.

In addition, each of the state’s seven drive-through testing sites offers options for Spanish translation services.

And as the state develops its contact tracing abilities at local health departments, the state will seek robust relationships with trusted partners in Latino communities in order to ensure that tracking capabilities reflect Illinois’ diverse communities.

Lastly, as a part of efforts to expand Medicaid, the administration expanded emergency Medicaid to cover undocumented individuals. Undocumented individuals should not defer seeking testing or medical attention because of the associated cost.

Housing Support

Across Illinois, there are multi-generational families of all backgrounds living in a single household, or families and roommates living in smaller apartment units, making self isolation difficult. To support Illinois residents who need help to quarantine in a safe space, the state has prepared thousands of free hotel rooms for residents who may need to move out of their home as a precautionary measure to make sure they keep their families or roommates safe. These hotel rooms offer full wraparound services, including meals and medical assistance, and are entirely free for anyone to access through their county or local public health department.

Welcoming Centers

The Department of Human Services has also utilized the Illinois Welcoming Centers (IWCs) as a hub for free resources for immigrant communities. Emergency funds to provide food and necessities, assistance to enroll in SNAP, WIC, TANF, and public benefits, and information on COVID-19 testing locations and access to medical resources are available at these IWCs. Additionally, local organizations and non-profits are working with the IWCs to distribute information about these services to a wider audience.

The Office of Welcoming Centers has provided guidance to community-based IWC’s to allow them to continue to operate remotely and is exploring ways to provide assistance to build remote capacity. The administration has convened webinars and provided guidance to guide IWC’s access to public benefits and has distributed information about the public charge and federal benefits to ensure that IWC’s are providing the appropriate information and assistance to immigrants based on their eligibility for benefits.

For more information on IWCs, visit www.dhs.illinois.gov/ImmigrantHelp.

Workers’ Rights

As a part of the stay-at-home order that took effect on May 1, employers are required to follow guidance that ensures the safety and wellbeing of all employees.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Workplace Rights Bureau, the Illinois Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Labor are investigating and enforcing guidelines in non-compliant facilities.

For public employers—such as state and local governments, public works departments, and police and fire departments—complaints should be submitted to the Illinois OSHA.

For private sector employers like gas stations, restaurants, and manufacturers, complaints should be directed to the federal OSHA.

Both of those reporting mechanisms can be found on the Illinois Department of Labor website: https://www2.illinois.gov/idol. Employees from both the private and public sector can submit complaints with the Illinois Attorney General’s Workplace Rights Bureau.