Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot has declared on Thursday that racism will be deemed a public health crisis in the city. Lightfoot also announced that over $9 million will be diverted from COVID-19 funds to solve the issue.
What are the details?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the pandemic has “laid bare” racial differences regarding access to health care, life expectancy, and mental illness.
According to The Blaze, Lightfoot added that “systemic racism in health care is literally killing us here in Chicago.”
“At almost every point in our city's history, sadly, racism has taken a devastating toll on the health and wellbeing of our residents of color, and particularly those who are black. Without formally acknowledging this history and reality, and the continuing impact of that infamous legacy, looking at the root causes of today's challenges, we will never be able to move forward as a city and fully provide our communities with the resources that we need to live happy, vibrant, and fulfilled lives,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor is also convinced that racism takes on invisible forms “like the impacts on the psyche and other impacts on our bodies that are just as, if not more deadly.”
“COVID laid bare a lot of disparities. When we started looking at the disproportionate impact of COVID on communities of color in particular, there's a straight line to the lack of access to safe, affordable, high-quality healthcare,” she went on.
The mayor cited statistics from a recent report made by the Chicago Department of Public Health, and she emphasized that “the COVID-19 death rate of black city residents is more than double that of white residents and that the death rate of Latino residents is 76% greater than that of white people,” as The Blaze reports.
“Those sobering statistics stem from disproportionate rates of chronic diseases born of historic disparities in medical treatment, safe spaces to exercise, access to nutritious food, the overrepresentation of black and Latino residents in low-wage and frontline workforces where health care benefits are non-existent in many instances, where employees often work in close proximity to each other and are less able to take paid time off when they are sick. And the list goes on and on. We can no longer allow racism to rob our residents of the opportunity to live and lead full, happy, and healthy lives.”
To fight against racial disparities, Lightfoot has decided to allocate $9.6 million in COVID-19 relief funds for creating Healthy Chicago Equity Zones, a collection of six areas in the city.
The community groups from within each of these Chicago areas will need to come up with strategies that will improve community wellness.