Durbin Discusses Impact of COVID-19 With Chicago Chapter Of The First Ladies Health Initiative

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined the “Solutions, Not Just Conversations” conference call hosted by the First Ladies Initiative’s Chicago Chapter to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority communities in Illinois.  On the call, Durbin spoke about the racial disparities in health care magnified by this public health crisis and additional support needed for Illinois communities in the next coronavirus relief package.  Durbin also discussed the CARES Act and how faith-based organizations, such as churches, can receive funding through the Payment Protection Program.

While African American residents make up less than 15 percent of Illinois’ population, they account for about 40 percent of the state’s deaths linked to COVID-19.  In Chicago, African American residents account for almost 60 percent of the city’s COVID-19 deaths despite only making up 30 percent of Chicago’s population.

“Minority communities are being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and we must address these racial disparities to provide more equitable health care for communities of color,” said Durbin. “I’m proud to stand alongside the First Ladies Health Initiative to call for reporting nationwide demographic public health data on race and ethnicity. We must also actively continue to seek solutions for the racial health disparities that affect communities of color across Illinois and the nation.”

Last week, Durbin lead the Democratic members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calling on Secretary Alex Azar to begin reporting nationwide demographic data of cases and deaths related to COVID-19 and to take action on the racial inequities in the health outcomes exacerbated by the pandemic.  Durbin is also a cosponsor of the Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure Act, which would require HHS to publicly release demographic data on COVID-19 testing, treatment, and deaths.