Keeping Waukegan Residents Safe from Coronavirus, Environmental Concerns


The industrial history of north suburban Waukegan has created a legacy of environmental issues for residents. 

The area is home to several EPA Superfund sites, and activists have still been working in recent years to mitigate past pollution and get area businesses to adopt greener practices.

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“Waukegan has a big history of industry and a lot of that industry has left and we were left with no jobs,” said Celeste Flores of Clean Power Lake County and Faith in Place. She’s worked for years to guarantee “rights to clean air, clean water, and healthy soil.

“We want to make sure that we are planning for our future in the way that our community needs it. Our community is made up of immigrants, it’s a working class community and we need to make sure that whatever economic relief comes it comes with jobs in mind that are for our community.”

Many of those immigrants, Flores notes, are Latino. She says it’s important that coronavirus education and outreach is reaching Spanish speakers.

“In Waukegan and in Lake County we already have a lot of health concerns and a lot of things (pollutants) are going into our air,” Flores said. “Our health is already being compromised and this is only exacerbating that. ... We need to make sure that those (whose) native language is Spanish are getting the information at the same time as our English speakers.”


Covid Across Chicago

How is the novel coronavirus impacting local businesses, residents and social service agencies across the city and region? And how are local leaders handling the crisis? We hit the streets to answer those questions and more in our ongoing reporting series, COVID-19 Across Chicago. See where we’ve been and what we’ve discovered in this overview.


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