Dear Chicago Residents and Partners,
Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) remain committed to addressing the health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak, including  new data showing the disproportionate impact on Chicago’s Latinx community . As part of a robust response plan, the City has formed a partnership with SEIU Local 1, UNITE HERE Local 1, and the Construction and General Laborers’ District Council of Chicago and Vicinity to better protect essential workers and engage the most impacted communities.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases throughout Chicago continues to increase, and over the past month the data show an increasingly disproportionate impact on the Latinx community. In early April, the Latinx population represented 14% of cases and 9% of deaths. However, new data now show Latinx Chicagoans represent 37% of cases and 25% of deaths. African Americans also continue to represent a disproportionate percentage of cases (36%) and deaths (52%), but Latinx residents now make up the largest percentage of cases.
To address systemic health inequities highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis, the City is leveraging the Racial Equity Rapid Response team to develop solutions that minimize gaps in healthcare systems, create more equity in service delivery, and educate targeted populations while enhancing programs to help vulnerable populations. A key tactic to this new strategy will be the continued education and engagement of Chicago’s essential workforce, which is why the City developed this new partnership with SEIU Local 1, UNITE HERE Local 1, the Construction and General Laborers’ District Council of Chicago and Vicinity.
Through this collaborative effort, the City and unions will develop a robust education campaign to help essential employees remain safe and healthy while they continue going to and from work. In addition, the unions will be organizing membership meetings that help employees better understand their rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the City will continue to work in close coordination with these unions to develop strategies to protect workers who may be experiencing increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.  
In an effort to reach all members of these communities, the City, through its Racial Equity Rapid Response team, has organized several events in the coming months, including a townhall co-hosted by AARP and Univision, and a youth townhall specifically focused on emotional well-being. Additional events will continue to be organized in coordination with the Latino Policy Forum, Esperanza Health Centers and other community-based organizations.
What's New
Arts for Illinois Relief Fund  - The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund recently announced that over $3.3 million has been awarded to more than 1,000 artists and cultural organizations across the state, which is expected to reach recipients in the coming weeks. The fund is a partnership between the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the broader philanthropic community – administered by Arts Alliance Illinois in partnership with 3Arts and Arts Work Fund. Initially seeded with $4 million in commitments from public and private sources, including a $1 million contribution from DCASE, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund has now grown to $5.5 million that will be awarded to artists, artisans and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19. The fund will continue to accept applications through May 11. To donate or apply, visit .
Guidance for Distributing Masks  - Disposable procedure masks and washable cloth masks help fight COVID-19 by helping keep the person wearing the mask from spreading the disease to others. Masks and other face coverings must be used and distributed effectively to safeguard public health. We encourage those interested in donating and distributing masks to follow current public health guidance:
  • Keep the masks in their original box or wrapping when distributing.
  • Prioritize congregate settings where a lot of people are close to each other or where COVID-19 is likely to do the most harm. These include shelters, grocery stores, critical infrastructure workplaces, assisted living, and organizations where people work hands-on with clients.
  • Instruct organizations that receive masks to prioritize employees, especially those who are working directly with people who have COVID-19 or symptoms. Masks left over can go to others, especially seniors and people with severe medical conditions.

Cleaning Service for Older Adults  - The  Heavy-duty Chore Program , provided via the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, is a one-time intensive cleaning service for older adults, 60 years old & above, whose living conditions pose a threat to their health, safety and well-being. This can include trash removal, window and appliance cleaning, moving heavy furniture and packing. The short-term chore program assists older adults who need temporary assistance in the home due to illness, recent hospitalization or injury to assist them as they recuperate. To sign up for the program, older residents should call the Information & Assistance Hotline at 312-744-4016, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Smart 911  - Sign up for Smart 911 and create a safety profile for yourself and your family. In the event of an emergency, your Safety Profile is made available to call takers the moment your phone or one associated with your account dials 9-1-1. The service is free and sign up can be completed in minutes at .
Chi COVID Coach  - The  Chi COVID Coach  app is developed to help you know what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Once you sign up, we’ll check back with you via text message. We'll let you know what you and the other people in your household should do to limit the spread of COVID-19, help you know how long you need to stay separated from others, and give you day-by-day guidance throughout a potential isolation or quarantine period. Additionally, when you register with our Chi COVID Coach, we will alert you when COVID-19 approved antibody testing - and down the line, vaccination - is available. Learn more at
Q & A With Dr. Allison Arwady, CDPH Commissioner
May 8, 2020
Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot
Press Conference
May 8, 2020