Illinois Latinos now have highest rate of coronavirus infections, IDPH data shows

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
IL Latinos have highest rate of COVID-19 infections: IDPH data
Latinos statewide have now surpassed all other ethnic groups in the total number of reported COVID-19 infections, according to IDPH data.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Latinos statewide have now surpassed all other ethnic groups in the total number of reported COVID-19 infections, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Chicago's newest coronavirus testing site in Back of the Yards is trying to fill the testing gap for communities of color, hoping to receive up to 100 people a day.

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"We're going to open up a total of five spaces next month, within this month, really focusing in on African American and Latino communities that have been under-resourced for years, making sure that within their own communities they'll have access to testing," said Donna Thompson, Access Community Health Network.

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While the number of deaths among Latinos remains significantly lower than for whites and African Americans, the number of infections is staggering.

More than 60 percent of all Illinois Latinos tested for COVID-19 got positive results, and Latino infections are doubling at a faster rate than other ethnicities.

Increased testing is believed to be just one of the reasons behind the trend

"We work all aspects," said State Senator Cristina Castro (D-IL 22). "From the grocery stores, to warehouses, to meat packing plants, to health care. But we have a lot of underlying conditions as well, whether it's heart disease, diabetes."

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Large households with multiple generations living together is another. There is also a language barrier for many, especially now when people in search of help must go alone and may not be able to adequately explain their symptoms.

"It's have bilingual bicultural staff in the emergency room when they go there with concerns," said Dr. Aida Giachello of the Feinberg School of Medicine. "In the inpatient care. That there is follow-up with those that are positive. Follow up in terms of testing the rest of the family, and also follow up in terms of telemedicine."

Latino leaders believe the real numbers to be higher than reported because there is no ethnic data provided on more than half the total number of tests completed statewide. It is a gap they fear may lead to an even bigger problem down the road.