By Dorothy Tucker, Samah Assad
CHICAGO (CBS) — Monday marks 88 days since the coronavirus was first confirmed in Illinois.
And African Americans now represent 57% of all COVID-19 deaths in Chicago. In just the last two-weeks, the number of black victims has tripled.
CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker first identified five hot spots using maps CBS 2 created. Now, she’s digging deeper into the data and found in the neighborhoods where the victims lived, many have essential jobs that increase their chances of being exposed to the deadly virus.
Look no further than the blue points on the map. These are people who died of coronavirus. Most of them live in Chicago’s black communities, the hot spots for COVID-19 deaths.
When CBS 2 first took a look two weeks ago, five neighborhoods had the worse deaths: South Shore, Englewood, Auburn Gresham, Austin and Chatham. It was bad then. It is worse now.
Englewood is leading the way. The numbers of deaths have jumped from six to 23 as of last Friday. South Shore is almost as bad: seven deaths two weeks ago. By the weekend 22.
Auburn Gresham, Chatham and Austin neighborhoods, all identified as hot spots, have also seen increases. A common thread among those who died: where they work.
“When we consider the types of positions that black Americans hold, many of them are on the front lines in essential roles related to food delivery, groceries work, transportation, delivery,” said epidemiologist Dr. Mercedes Carnethon of Northwestern Medicine.
The data CBS 2 pulled reflects the reality. In Austin, where 19 people died, nearly 11% of those employed work in transportation. That’s nearly 3,500 people. In Englewood, nearly 12% of those employed, or just over 2,000 people, also work transportation jobs. Another 1,200 work in food preparation.
Consider the case of young adult working: A 30 to 40 years old grocery store worker.
“He or she does not have symptoms but they’re talking, they are providing care for younger children, they are providing care for elders. There is no amount of cleaning within a household that can stop the spread through ordinary interactions and discussions,” Carnethon said.
Another popular job in those black communities: people who work in health care as kitchen helpers or janitors. All essential workers who can be exposed to the coronavirus every day.