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SSMMA issues press release – South suburban leaders unite in message: Stay Home!

South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA) and Southland Regional Black Mayoral Caucus (SRBMC) officials join other Chicagoland leaders to express grave concern about healthcare disparities that leave African Americans and Latinx dying from coronavirus at a higher rate in Chicago and the south suburbs. This was after U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams gave America a dire warning on Monday: The country was about to enter its worst week yet of the coronavirus pandemic and it was becoming increasingly clear that based on new data, COVID-19 will have a starker impact on one group in particular: black people.

“Yes, there are a higher percentage of blacks with COVID-19 who have succumbed to death,” said Robbins Mayor Tyrone Ward, who is also SSMMA’s president. “We are fully aware that blacks possess more underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart concerns and asthma. Couple that with the fact that a large number of blacks work in service positions like bus driving, maintenance, store service, or delivery, leaving them vulnerable to exposure.”

Southland officials add that there is also disproportionate access to COVID-19 testing, information and healthcare, citing the recent closures of MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights and Oak Forest Hospital in Oak Forest.

“The Southland has been without a Level I Trauma Center for many years, which has made it difficult for our communities to receive emergency medical care,” SRBMC president and Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry, Jr. said. “Now with this pandemic upon us, we have been the last to have open testing sites for our citizens over 60 years of age.”

“We need to take this seriously as our residents are at greater risk,” added Kristi DeLaurentiis, executive director of SSMMA. “Right now, people have to follow the stay-at-home edict issued by Governor Pritzker. It may save their lives and the lives of family, friends, and others within the community.” Read more. See related stories.

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