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UPDATE: Peoria County COVID-19 Cases Appear Racially Proportionate, So Far

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UPDATED 5:30 PM| On Tuesday, Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson gave a breakdown of gender and race statistics for Peoria County specifically on Tuesday. She said 53 percent of the county's 15 COVID-19 cases are male, and 47 percent are female. 73 percent are white, and 27 percent are categorized as another race. The cases cover all age ranges, with the exceptions of people under 29 and the 70 to 79 ranges.

ORIGINAL | Statewide, African Americans outpace whites in both confirmed cases and deaths, despite making up a smaller portion of the state's overall demographic makeup.

Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson said there aren't disproportionate numbers of certain demographics being diagnosed with COVID-19 locally.

"For Peoria County, our case count of confirmed cases mimics our demographic breakdown as a community," she said. "So we do not see an overrepresentation of one demographic versus another based on our local data."
 
Hendrickson said state law doesn't allow the release of numbers for ZIP codes with five or fewer people diagnosed, for fear of those individuals becoming personally identifiable.
 
Peoria County's black population was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be about 19 percent of the county's 179,000 people as of July 2019. Twenty-seven percent of the city of Peoria's population is black, and predominiately lives in ZIP codes in the southern half of the city.
 
Other counties, including McLean and Champaign, are releasing racial data, though confirmed cases in those communites far outpaces the Tri-County area of Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties.
 
Peoria County has 12 confirmed cases, and one reported death. The Tri-County area has 32 confirmed cases. Champaign County alone had 63 confirmed cases as of Monday, and McLean County had 48.
 
In the state of Illinois, 29 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients are black, 27.5 percent are white, and 9.7 percent are Hispanic. Another 24 percent don't have a recorded race or ethnicity. Forty-two percent of the state's 307 recorded COVID-19 deaths are black Illinoisans, compared to 37 percent that are white.
 
The U.S. Census estimates the state's population makeup is 77 percent white, 14 percent black, and 17 percent Hispanic or Latino.

 
Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said COVID-19 is an "equal opportunity virus." But he said there are reasons the black community may be at higher risk.
 
"Perhaps some may not be getting this information, depending on where they source and prioritize their news," Ardis said. "Systematic medical realities facing minority communities could be providing increased susceptibility to the COVID disease, as well."
 
Ardis asked the community to help get information about social distancing and staying at home out to everyone.
 
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that communities of color, and particularly the black community, disproportionately shoulder the healthcare conditions that can lead to worse outcomes with a COVID-19  diagnosis.
 
"And to put into words what is often left unsaid, that's a product of generations of systemic disinvestment in communities of color, compounded by disparities in healthcare delivery systems and access," Pritzker said.
 
He said the number one way to address that disparity is more testing access.

 
The Illinois Department of Public Health began releasing COVID-19 data broken down by ZIP code on Monday for those areas with five or more cases. Currently, Bloomington-Normal is the nearest community for which data is available.
 
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