COVID-19 Inequities in Chicago

Investigating Inequity Amid the Pandemic

ProPublica’s Midwest reporters examine the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on Chicago’s most vulnerable communities, including the disproportionate deaths among Black people living on the city’s West and South Sides, the treatment of temporary and factory workers, the isolation of seniors in public and subsidized housing, and the spike in opioid overdoses.

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COVID-19 Took Black Lives First. It Didn’t Have To.

In Chicago, 70 of the city’s 100 first recorded victims of COVID-19 were black. Their lives were rich, and their deaths cannot be dismissed as inevitable. Immediate factors could — and should — have been addressed.

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Opioid Overdoses Keep Surging in Chicago, Killing Black People on the West Side

Half of Cook County’s confirmed opioid-related deaths have been among Black residents, even though they make up less than a quarter of the county’s population. Officials warn that the COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed the crisis.

Senior Citizens in Subsidized Housing Have Been Dying Alone at Home, Unnoticed Because of Coronavirus Distancing

The patchwork system of well-being checks in some of Chicago’s public and subsidized housing was not enough to prevent deaths in heartbreaking circumstances.

Overdose Deaths Have Skyrocketed in Chicago, and the Coronavirus Pandemic May Be Making It Worse

Opioid-related deaths in Cook County have doubled since this time last year, and similar increases are happening across the country. “If you’re alone, there’s nobody to give you the Narcan,” said one coroner.

In Chicago, Urban Density May Not Be to Blame for the Spread of the Coronavirus

The communities hardest hit by the coronavirus in Chicago are low-density black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including ones where economic decline and population loss have caused more people to live in the same household.

What Happens When the Workers Who Make Hand Soap Get COVID-19? They Protest.

After a worker at a beauty supply factory near Chicago died of COVID-19, her former co-workers staged a protest. But they didn’t seek help from OSHA. They sought help from a new advocate: the state attorney general’s office.

At Least 19 Children at a Chicago Shelter for Immigrant Detainees Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

A coronavirus outbreak at a Heartland Alliance facility on Chicago’s South Side may be the largest outbreak of the virus in any shelter for immigrant youth in the country. At least 19 children and two staff have tested positive.

“Essential” Factory Workers Are Afraid to Go to Work and Can’t Afford to Stay Home

As some Illinois factories and warehouses stay open making supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak, workers say standing elbow to elbow in production lines and clocking in with fingerprint scanners could make them sick.

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