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CHICAGO — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said the state’s Latino community has been hit harder by COVID-19 than any other on Wednesday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 2,270 new cases of coronavirus disease and 136 additional related deaths have been confirmed over the past 24 hours Wednesday. This brings the total to 68,232 COVID-19 cases and 2,974 related deaths across 97 counties.

According to Pritzker, Latinos in Illinois have the highest proportion of cases of any ethnic group in the state, and are three times as likely to test positive for COVID-19.

“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,” Pritzker said in a statement. “The Latino community is the Illinois community. We are in these fights, all of these fights, together.”

State figures show over 17,000 people with confirmed cases of coronavirus disease identified as Hispanic, accounting for about 25 percent of cases while Latinos make up just 17 percent of the population. The proportion could be even larger, considering over 17,000 left the question blank.

A graphic released by the State of Illinois shows Latinos make up the largest proportion of confirmed COVID-19 cases

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and Pritzker said the state is planning ways to reach out to the Latinx community and address the disparity. This includes working with community leaders to urge people to get free tests. Welcome centers in Illinois will also provide health information throughout the pandemic.

A day after Pritzker outlined his plan for reopening Illinois, he said the state is working to make sure that employers follow social distancing and face mask guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they reopen. If employers are found not to be following the federal standards, he wants them to be reported to the labor department or the state’s attorney general’s office.  

Republicans also got a chance to sound off on the governor’s phased and regional plan to reopen the state Wednesday, saying they think it just doesn’t work. They’re urging Democratic leaders to call lawmakers back to Springfield soon to take up the issue.

Speaker Mike Madigan hasn’t committed on whether or when that could happen.