Coronavirus Chicago: Lightfoot outlines plan to address COVID-19 impact on black community, leaders call for better healthcare

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot outlined additional steps Chicago is taking alleviate the disproportionate effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on the African American community.

Earlier this month, Mayor Lightfoot announced that more than half of the COVID-19 cases in Chicago are African Americans and said the city would take a series of steps to address the disparity.

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On Monday, Mayor Lightfoot said the city has targeted three neighborhood that have been it the hardest: Auburn Gresham, Austin and South Shore.

The mayor said efforts by the Racial Equality Rapid Response team has targeted the areas with outreach efforts including informational door hangers as well as distributing masks.

"We are all in this crisis together, but we haven't experienced it in the same way," said Mayor Lightfoot. "In response to the shockingly disproportionate impact this disease has had on our communities, RERRT is working aggressively and in close collaboration with local leaders and partners to mount a public health response that addresses the specific and contextualized needs of our residents and families. While we continue to focus on the immediate challenges related to COVID-19, this crisis has also doubled-down our longer mission to fight poverty, end racial inequality, and ensure every Chicagoan has access to a bright future we all deserve."

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Lightfoot announced a series of tele-town halls will be held to provide education and information to the hard hit neighborhoods. The town halls will be livestreamed by community organizations.

On Thursday, April 23, South Shore works (@southshoreworks) will host a town hall from 4:30-6 p.m. On Saturday April 15, Greater Auburn Gresham DC (@gagdcchicago) will host a town hall from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Austin Coming Together (@act.chicago) will host a town hall from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Chicago health officials said as of Monday, 46 percent of COVID-19 cases in Chicago are black, with Latinx residents comprising 24 percent of cases, white patients 21 percent and Asian four percent. Officials said the population of Chicago is 33 percent black, 29 percent Hispanic, 33 percent white, seven percent Asian.

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Some black community leaders have called for more health care at South and West side hospitals.



Officials said there have been 500 COVID-19 deaths in Chicago, 278 African American deaths, 83 Hispanic deaths, 82 white deaths, 23 Asian deaths and five of other ethnicity. In another 20 cases, the race of the patient remains under investigation.

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Meanwhile, some black community leaders have called for more health care at South and West side hospitals.

Community and faith leaders said residents are not getting equal treatment when it comes to healthcare and fighting COVID19 and they want Mayor Lori Lightfoot to step in.

Monday morning, a prayer vigil was held in front of Mercy Hospital near 25th Street and Michigan Avenue. The group said there are disparities in health care among in the black community.

They cited the closure of Provident Hospital earlier this month, saying the African American community is experiencing a very high number of COVID19 deaths, and inequitable healthcare options.

"Racism didn't start with COVID, and we're tired of continuously kicking the can down the road, blaming people that are underserved without addressing key issues that contribute to the disparities that we see that leave particular populations more vulnerable," said Jitu Brown of the Kenwood Oakwood Community Organization

Provident Hospital's ER room reopened Monday morning, after being closed since early April- the hospital saying it needed to suspend services to update their facility according to new CDC social distancing guidelines and safe areas for patients and staff.

The group is asking for better healthcare on the South Side with better-equipped hospitals, better food options and more immediately, a mobile testing lab for residents to get tested for the coronavirus.

Cook County Health responded, saying they are reaching out to underserved communities, specifically helping patients most at-risk for resources with healthcare resources and they continue fresh fruits and vegetables to local clinics around the area.
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