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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other city and community leaders declared racism a public health crisis in Chicago on Thursday.

Lightfoot, joined by Dr. Allison Arwady Thursday morning, said now that we have a good handle on COVID-19, many people ask what’s next for Chicago’s Public Health Department.

Well, this is it.

The announcement comes after the Chicago Department of Public Health released a study earlier this week, showing Black Chicagoans have a shorter life expectancy rate. On average, Blacks in the city lived 71.4 years while non-Blacks lived 80.6 years. That gap is 9.2 years, but depending on the neighborhood it gets even wider.

The report outlined reasons being chronic diseases, homicides, infant mortality, HIV, flu and other infections, and opioid overdoses.

The mayor acknowledged it’s not enough for words to declare a crisis, the city is putting a plan into action.

The health department is allocating $9.6 million in Covid relief funding from the CDC, to establish “healthy Chicago equity zones.”

The six geographical areas cover the entire city and will focus on creating ways to improve wellness.

“When we think about racism, many of us think of it in its visible and audible forms. But the reality is, the insidious nature of systemic racism has other impacts, that are every bit has deep and harmful, but often ones that we can’t see,” Lightfoot said.

This comes one-year after Chicago’s largest hospitals and clinics officially names racism as a public health crisis.

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