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Pritzker Highlights COVID Disparities, Demands “Bad Actor” Employers Be Reported

Screenshot of J.B. Pritzker via Blue Room Stream
Blue Room Stream
Blue Room Stream
Screenshot of J.B. Pritzker via Blue Room Stream

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said state government has been extending help to communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic . The governor also offered a stern warning to employers failing to protect their employees from contracting the virus on the job.

Pritzker said black and brown communities across the state don’t have vital resources needed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because of decades of disparities in healthcare access and delivery, we’ve seen the worst effects of this pandemic fall disproportionately upon the backs of the communities of color in our state,” Pritzker said.

The governor said 60 percent of Illinois’ Latinx community is testing positive for COVID-19, which is nearly three times the average among other demographic groups.

To address that disparity, the governor said the state government is offering thousands of free hotel rooms to those who need to leave their homes because of an infection. The rooms come with services, like meals and medical assistance, and are free through local public health departments.

Pritzker also pointed to Illinois Welcoming Centers, which are providing immigrant communities with free resources like food and other necessities. More information can be found here.

Meanwhile, Pritzker said employers should be called out if they do not institute public health protections at their workplaces. Reports in recent weekshave highlighted a number of employers who allegedly aren’t following the advice of public health officials.

“It is in everybody’s best interest for these essential workplaces to take every precaution necessary to protect their workers,” Pritzker said. “Employers who are bad actors need to be held to account.”

Public employers, like local government offices and public works departments, can be reported to Illinois’ On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program, or OSHA. Private employers can be reported to federal OSHA officials. Both reporting methods can be filed at the Department of Labor website here.

The state Attorney General’s office is among the agencies enforcing workplace guidelines and investigating non-compliant workplaces.

Governor Says State Fair ‘Highly Unlikely’

Under the governor’s reopening plan released Tuesday, gatherings of more than 50 people would not be allowed until a vaccine or proven treatment for COVID-19 is available. Public health experts agree that could be months or possibly years away.

When asked how that projection would affect the Illinois State Fair in August, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said it was “highly unlikely” the fair would be held this year. Still, with early research into the treatment remdesivir, Pritzker said it is possible.

“I hope there will be many others (treatments), and maybe by the time these larger events roll around, we might be able to have a treatment that’s very effective,” he said Wednesday. “And then I think there is the possibility.”

Mary Hansen contributed to this report.

Mike Smith is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.
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