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Mayor Lightfoot Reports 'Truly Remarkable Progress' In Distributing COVID-19 Vaccines To Black, Latinx Populations

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady on Friday touted "truly remarkable progress" in making sure COVID-19 vaccines are distributed equitably, and shots are getting into the arms of the city's most vulnerable residents.

Lightfoot said, during the first weeks vaccines were distributed in December, only 18% went to Black or Latinx people, despite them making up approximately 60% of the city's population. In the most recent week, about 50% of first doses went to Black and Latinx residents.

The mayor called that "truly remarkable progress," and said she's confident that number will continue to grow.

"We still have a long way to go, but this incredible progress is the direct result of our equity-based approach to responding to COVID-19 since day one," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot herself received her second dose of the vaccine on Friday, jokingly telling Arwady "just make sure you aim correct" before the city's top doctor gave her the inoculation.

Last month, Lightfoot announced a plan to increase the number of doses going to Black and Latinx communities, by boosting the number of vaccines going to 15 high-need neighborhoods.

The first neighborhood targeted by that plan was Belmont Cragin, where city officials teamed up with Northwest Side Housing Center, Oak Street Health, and Lurie Children's hospital to host vaccination clinics and register residents for inoculations over the past two weekends, according to the mayor's office.

This week the city also opened temporary vaccination clinics in Gage Park and North Lawndale.

"We will continue to push the vaccine to the settings where it is most needed," Arwady said.

Arwady said, in addition to improving equity in vaccinations, the city has been meeting its goals to ensure an efficient rollout of vaccines.

The city set a goal of sending 95% of the vaccines it receives to providers every week, and has met or exceeded that goal each week.

"We hold a little bit back to make sure people can get those second doses on time," Arwady said.

Arwady said the city also set a goal of getting 85% of the vaccines it receives each week into the arms of patients within seven days of arrival. The city has met that goal every week, including 100% of the vaccines it received being administered within seven days in the most recent week.

The city's top doctor also touted continued progress in key COVID metrics, as the city is now averaging 323 new coronavirus cases per day, down from a peak of more than 3,000 per day a few months ago. The city's positivity rate is now down to 3.5%, the lowest it has been at any point during the pandemic, according to Arwady.


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