Chicago’s leaders, such as the mayor, Lori Lightfoot, have promised to tackle Covid disparities beyond just the short term.
Lightfoot has set up a Racial Equality Rapid Response team (RERRT) that has targeted the most affected neighborhoods, distributing masks and informational material, meals and other aid. The team stepped up Covid testing and focused on partnering with local health and community groups.
“We are all in this crisis together, but we haven’t experienced it in the same way,” Lightfoot said back in April, addressing what she called the “shockingly disproportionate impact” of coronavirus on the hardest-hit, majority Black neighborhoods.
The mayor’s office this week said in a statement that the RERRT has “become a leader in the nation for this type of hyper-local outreach and response to the global pandemic” and that the effort continues.
While some experts have praised efforts, others have argued that suggested policies don’t significantly address decades-long disparities.
“We have to be very clear about getting to the underlying causes. I’m afraid of people putting Band-Aids on things,” said Freeman-Wilson.
Residents who have experienced or witnessed the tragedies in their communities are also skeptical.
“I don’t think Chicago is addressing [the disparities],” said McMiller. “Everybody’s just numb. It’s like they’re sitting and waiting for us to die.”