The Crusader Newspaper Group

Op-Ed: Vulnerable Populations Need State and Federal Support Now

In these trying times, Easter was a beacon of hope. The sacred holiday reminded us that, even while wrestling with the Coronavirus Disease (“COVID-19”) Pandemic, we are all in this world together; that we are indeed our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers; and the behavior of one can affect many.

Yet, hope without action has produced grave consequences during this crisis and created a disparate impact on our most vulnerable citizens. The Associated Press has reported 3,621 deaths nationwide in nursing homes and long-term care facilities attributed to COVID-19. Also, we have seen African-Americans across the country disproportionately dying from COVID-19.

Next door in Chicago, 70% of the COVID-19 deaths were African-Americans, even though they only make up 30% of Chicago’s population. Likewise, 66% of the deaths in Milwaukee have been African-Americans, although they are only 26% of the city’s residents. About half of the COVID-19 deaths for the entire State of Michigan have occurred in the predominantly Black city of Detroit.

We know Gary, Indiana shares some demographics with the worst hit communities in this country. As Mayor, I have now exhausted our local resources in responding to COVID-19 and increasing the readiness of our citizenry. I am now sounding the alarm.

Gary, Indiana and Northwest Indiana urgently need state and federal resources and emergency management coordination on the ground in Gary to prevent more deaths. I have notified Governor Eric Holcomb and Vice-President Mike Pence that the City of Gary will extend the Gary Genesis Convention Center to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the construction of an emergency field hospital and for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use as a coordination center for Northwest Indiana. We must have state and federal assistance here now.

I have no doubt that working together we will contain the coronavirus sooner than later. Rest assured your local officials will continue to do all we can to protect you.


Mayor Jerome A. Prince

City of Gary, Indiana

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