Ald. Roderick Sawyer on COVID-19’s Disproportionate Impact on Black Chicagoans


Black Chicagoans account for 72% of COVID-19 deaths in the city, while only making up 30% of the overall population, public health officials announced Monday.

“It is something we’re following very closely, we’re concerned,” said 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer, who represents predominantly African American neighborhoods like Chatham and parts of Englewood on the South Side. He’s also the chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations. 

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Sawyer says the new statistics should serve as a reminder to take the coronavirus seriously, and to follow public health guidelines. 

“As we’d like to think, viruses know no wealth, know no race, know no condition. But the data seems to appear otherwise,” Sawyer said at a press conference with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday afternoon. “I’m going to ask everyone in Chicago, particularly the black community: pay attention to this. This is real. This is very, very serious. This is not a practice anymore.” 

Chatham is also home to many black-owned small businesses, some of which have closed temporarily. Sawyer says he’s encouraging business owners to apply for any aid they might be eligible for, and to also make sure their businesses and storefronts are secure. 

“I’ve had a couple of break-ins, particularly on 75th Street recently. So be safe … and make sure you have constant contact with landlords. I think everybody understands the situation. We’re all in this together,” he said. 


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