Cook County kicks off 2nd Racial Equity Week in light of COVID-19, census response

ByABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, September 14, 2020

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Cook County will kick off its 2nd Racial Equity Week Monday to look for ways to advance racial equity in light of COVID-19.

Cook County officials plan to hold a series of interactive virtual events with community leaders, local artists and the public.

The theme of the week is "Cook County Past, Present & Future."

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya will officially open the week with virtual remarks at Noon.

County officials will also make a final push to complete the census particularly in low-response communities.

Chicago's census count lags behind as deadline approaches, particularly in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods

Illinois' response rate is 70%, which is slightly higher than the national average. But Chicago's rate is roughly 59% with some neighborhoods hovering around 30%, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Those neighborhoods include the largely Black West Englewood neighborhood and Little Village, which has a large Hispanic population.

With the US Census deadline nearing on September 30, Chicago area community groups are working to make sure all residents are counted.

"The potential negative impact is just really widening some of those inequities across the region," said Erin Aleman, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which has looked at response rates. "The disparities that currently exist have the potential to worsen if there are less resources available based on undercounts."

Communities with lower response rates have been among those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Aleman said.

The undercount comes as the deadline was extended to October's end because of the pandemic.

However, the GOP-led Senate didn't take up the extension request, forcing a revised schedule that has the census ending in September.

A lawsuit over the deadline is pending with a court hearing scheduled for Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.