181 Blacks in Chicago died at home of COVID-19

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SIXTEEN RESIDENTS IN South Shore died of COVID-19 the same day an incident was reported. (Photo by Keith Chambers)

New data shows that 87 died the same day incident was reported, with many being Black females

By Erick Johnson

Some 181 Blacks in Chicago died at home of COVID-19, including 87 who died that same day an incident was reported, according to a Crusader review of the latest data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

In many of these cases, the COVID-19 victims were middle-aged and senior Black females.

The statistics raise questions about whether Black residents are seeking treatment at hospitals or if many have access to health care as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the city’s Black neighborhoods.

The Crusader has learned that in addition to rising deaths in nursing homes in South Shore, many Blacks are dying in homes in the predominately Black neighborhood where the death toll now stands at 84, the highest rate in the city.

The news comes as Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the opening of six new testing centers on the South Side, but none of them will be located in South Shore, Auburn Gresham or any Black neighborhoods with high death rates that are rising by the day.

In analyzing the latest data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Crusader found that at least 94 Blacks have died at least five days after an incident report was reported in 19 predominately Black neighborhoods or communities with large Black populations. In these same neighborhoods, 87 Blacks died the same day, hours and even minutes before they passed from the disease, medical examiner’s office data show.

The Crusader reviewed COVID-19 death data from the medical examiner’s office from March 16 to the present.

The Black neighborhoods that have the highest number of deaths at a home is South Shore. Some 28 people have died in the neighborhood. About 12 died five days after an incident was reported and 16 died the same day of the incident report.

On April 16, a 60-year-old Black female died just 50 minutes after an incident report that documented a health problem.

In the West Pullman and Roseland neighborhoods, at least 17 people died at a home less than five days after an incident was reported, including six that died the same day.

In Englewood, 12 Blacks died less than five days after an incident was reported, including eight that died the same day.

Auburn Gresham, a Black neighborhood that has the highest number of COVID-19 cases, 14 Blacks have died from the disease less than five days after the incident was reported. About six Blacks there died the same day the incident was reported.

Among the 87 Black COVID-19 victims that died at home the same day an incident was reported, 52 were female and 36 were male. In South Shore, 12 Black females and 4 Black males died of COVID-19 the same day an incident was reported. In Bronzeville five out of eight Blacks who died the same day an incident report was filed were females. In fact,  out of the 19 neighborhoods surveyed, there were more Black females who died the same day an incident was reported than Black males.

The data seem to contradict beliefs that Black females are more likely to go to the hospital than Black males when they are sick. Since the infamous Tuskegee Experiment in the 1960’s, many Blacks historically stay away from hospitals for financial reasons or out of bad experiences and distrust of white doctors. There is also concern that residents can be infected and not know it while spreading the virus to other people. By the time the symptoms appear, the infected person has a lesser chance of surviving, especially those with underlying medical conditions.

Black females were also the majority of the 94 Blacks who died less than five days after an incident was reported. Some 46 were male and 48 were female.

In terms of age, 34 of the 181 Blacks who died less than five days after an incident was reported were over 78 years old. About 25 were between 61 and 77. About 19 Black victims that died less than five days after an incident was reported were between 49 and 61. About five COVID-19 victims were between 18-35.

For now, the death rate in South Shore continues to remain the highest in the city. Some 84 people have died in the neighborhood, compared to  67 that the Crusader reported last week. In reviewing the medical examiner’s data, the Crusader identified five private residents where there were two or more Blacks that died from COVID-19. Three Blacks died in an apartment building on Kingston Avenue between April 18 and April 26. The first one, a 77-year-old Black male, died April 18, one day after an incident was reported. Eight days later, a Black 73-year-old female who lived on the same floor died, as well as a 70-year-old Black male who lived three floors below.

COVID-19 deaths are also still rising in South Shore’s nursing homes. Last week, the Crusader reported that

a total of 25 deaths occurred at Villa at Windsor Park, Symphony South Shore, Waterfront and Rainbow Beach nursing home. According to the latest data from the medical examiners’ office, a total of 40 residents have died in those nursing homes. Among that group, Villa at Windsor Park continues to have the highest number of deaths. As of last week, Villa at Windsor Park had 10 deaths. Now, a total of 21 people have died from COV1D-19 at that nursing home.

Meanwhile, six new COVID-19 testing sites will be opening on Chicago’s South Side this month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced this week. None will be in Auburn Gresham or South Shore where 898 and 571 residents have been infected, respectively. Last week Black leaders called for an accessible testing site in Auburn Gresham to help reduce the number of rising cases.

One new testing site will open at Guaranteed Rate Field, 333 W. 35th St., in Bridgeport, which will be dedicated to first responders and healthcare workers.

The other five testing sites will be located at Saucedo Elementary School, 2850 West 24th Blvd.; Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, 2331 N. Central Ave.; Kennedy-King College, 6301 South Halsted St.; Gately Park, 744 E. 103rd St.; and Senka Park, 5656 South St. Louis Avenue.

The testing sites at Guaranteed Rate Field, Saucedo Elementary School and Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy will open this week with the rest opening by the end of the month.

Those eligible to be tested are asymptomatic people who are first responders or healthcare workers exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, as well as those identified by contact tracers. Those people showing symptoms of COVID-19 are eligible to be tested.

As one of Chicago’s Black newspapers with a citywide distribution, our mission is to provide readers with factual news and in-depth coverage of its impact in the Black community. The Rona Reports are stories of Black resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Rona Report is made possible by the Chicago COVID-19 Journalism Fund, which is a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

First published in the print edition of the Chicago Crusader Newspaper on May 16, 2020. 

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