Apr 12, 2020 - Health

Chicago mayor: Coronavirus is "devastating" black communities

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that the reason the coronavirus has a disproportionate impact on minority populations is because of the underlying medical conditions that have historically "plagued" communities of color.

Why it matters: African Americans are dying from the virus at higher rates than any other racial demographic. Black Chicagoans comprise 72% of the city's deaths from the coronavirus, despite only making up 30% of its population, according to Lightfoot.

  • Lightfoot said that in order to confront this crisis, "you start by making sure you've got the data." Her office has issued an order requiring all health providers conducting testing to also record demographic information.
  • The mayor also said she has put in place a "racial equity rapid response team" made up of health care officials and community stakeholders in order to educate and ensure health resources and connections are available.

What she's saying:

"This is an issue that is not unique to Chicago, unfortunately. We're seeing similar kinds of numbers reported across the country in large urban centers. The answer that we believe is right is because of the underlying conditions that people of color, and particularly black folks, suffer from. Whether it's diabetes, heart disease, upper respiratory illnesses, the kind of things we've been talking about for a long time that plague black Chicago, that lead to life expectancy gaps. This virus attacks those underlying conditions with a vengeance."
— Lori Lightfoot

The big picture: A Washington Post analysis of available data and census demographics found that counties with an African American majority have "three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority."

Go deeper: Coronavirus hits poor, minority communities harder

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