South Side neighborhoods have the most coronavirus fatalities
South and West Side neighborhoods lead the city in COVID-19 deaths. Inside this issue, readers will find a table with the latest death counts broken down by community area; numbers are drawn from the tracker we published two weeks ago, which updates daily online. South Shore has so far seen the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities per capita, followed by Morgan Park, West Englewood, Douglas, and West Pullman. Carol Adams, treasurer of South Shore Works, hosted a webinar to discuss the coronavirus pandemic with local aldermen Leslie Hairston and Michelle Harris, the city Department of Public Health, and other public officials, which the Hyde Park Herald reported focused on education and expanding testing, care, and social services in hard-hit areas.
The mayor’s added powers during the crisis
Both progressive and machine aldermen were skeptical of granting Mayor Lori Lightfoot emergency spending powers, an ordinance that ultimately passed the City Council April 24 with a 29–21 vote. During a committee meeting on April 22 a handful of aldermen, including Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Raymond Lopez, and Jeanette Taylor, used a parliamentary procedure to temporarily delay the vote, which they said was a “power grab”—prompting Lightfoot to accuse them of being selfish and grandstanding. The emergency powers could speed up the city’s response to the crisis by allowing the mayor to move the 2020 budget around and negotiate million-dollar contracts, but critics claim that reducing oversight of city spending could result in abuses like the infamous parking meter deal negotiated under Richard M. Daley. Though the ordinance is set to expire on June 30, it will likely be extended if the stay-at-home order persists.
Essential workers are mostly Black and brown
More than half of essential workers in the city during the pandemic are people of color, according to an analysis by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning that looked at twelve job sectors and other occupations that have been essential during the pandemic, such as manufacturing, transportation, material moving, and building and grounds maintenance. Latinx workers are especially overrepresented in construction (at thirty-nine percent) and food service occupations (thirty-eight percent), while Black workers are most overrepresented in healthcare support (at thirty-six percent) and protective service jobs (twenty-nine percent). Chicago-area essential workers live in greater concentration along the South and West Sides, in nearby south, southwest, and west suburban Cook County, and nearby counties.