Senate Majority Leader and Illinois Legislative Black Caucus ( ILBC ) Chair Kimberly A. Lightford ( D-Maywood ) is backing Gov. JB Pritzker's efforts to expand COVID-19 testing in African-American and other minority communities across Illinois.
When the COVID-19 outbreak started, the ILBC developed concerns about the effects this pandemic would have on Black communities. Those concerns were validated recently when Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot brought attention to racial disparities in the number of deaths due to coronavirus, pointing out that 72 percent of the city's fatalities were African-Americans. She was one of the first government leaders to address the "death gap," a topic now being discussed across the nation and world.
On April 10, Pritzker announced a partnership between Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and four Federally Qualified Health Centers ( FQHCs ) on Chicago's West and South Sides that will expand testing in these communities to an additional 400 tests per day. The expansion includes three locations in Illinois' Metro East to assist communities in East St. Louis and the surrounding region, and another facility in the Markham-Harvey area of the south suburbs.
Among the many reasons African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is that they are often employed in positions that are deemed essential during this time.