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Chicago Alderman Uses Old Fashioned Way To Get Information Out On COVID-19

CHICAGO (CBS) -- How do you get help to the most vulnerable during the pandemic?

Start by identifying where they live.

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports some public officials are using an old tool.

One Chicago alderman started with a question: Who among his constituents on Chicago's northwest side were most vulnerable to COVID-19?

He looked at census data.

"Where are the folks that have lowest median income," asked Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th.) "Working poor people struggling paycheck to paycheck. Where do we have the oldest folks, the highest median age?"

The groups hardest hit by the coronavirus. Census data shows the alderman that in his 35th ward, they live largely in neighborhoods like one at Kostner, north of Armitage

"These are the specific blocks where we think there's going to be a lot of people who are going to be very vulnerable to COVID-19."

Identifying those areas makes it easier for the alderman to offer help. Ramirez-Rosa said many in that area don't have computers and the internet. So he created an old fashioned newsletter to tell those constituents where they could get services during the pandemic.

He and his staff passed out 7,000 copies.

"What the newsletter said was call my office. We're here to help. To let you know where the nearest food pantry can be found and let you know how to apply for unemployment," he said.

Ramirez-Rosa said Logan Square has had 1.9 COVID-19 deaths per 1,000 residents. But the nearby Hermosa neighborhood, he said, has had 3.9 deaths per 1,000 residents.

"When you have such a powerful pandemic like this, unfortunately those that are already suffering hit even harder," Ramirez-Rosa said. "And that's why we constantly have to have policies that prioritize the most vulnerable among us."

The alderman said as a result of that newsletter, his office has received 600 calls a week from people seeking help.

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