Minorities, elderly represent higher rates of COVID-19 infections, deaths

  • Daily Herald Diversity Editor Madhu Krishnamurthy

    Daily Herald Diversity Editor Madhu Krishnamurthy

 
 
Updated 5/19/2020 3:07 PM

Higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths among suburban minority communities and the elderly population is concerning health officials.

In DuPage County, home to communities hardest-hit by the pandemic, Latinos comprise 27.5% of confirmed cases and 14.5% of the county's population. African Americans make up 5.4% of confirmed cases and 5.3% of the population. Asians represent 6.4% of cases and 12.6% of the population, and whites account for 27.3% of confirmed cases and 79.7% of the population.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mortality rates per 100,000 population are: African Americans, 47.2 deaths, whites, 29.4, Latinos, 19.8, and Asians, 16.3.

Nursing homes

Nursing home deaths represent 49% -- 1,975 -- of Illinois' 4,058 COVID-19 fatalities as of Friday. DuPage County had 1,475 confirmed cases in nursing homes and 245 deaths, Illinois Department of Public Health data shows.

"Most of our outbreaks are occurring in long-term care facilities," said Karen Ayala, DuPage County Health Department executive director.

Health officials are working with the nursing homes to make sure administrators understand and follow infection control guidelines, provide COVID-19 testing and have adequate protective gear for employees and residents.

Census outreach

Phone calls, texts, webinars, social media and virtual PSA campaigns are some of the ways census officials are reaching hard-to-count suburban populations.

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Illinois' census self-response rate is 64.3% as of Friday, while the national rate is 59.3%. Suburbs with a high minority population, such as Aurora, 66.4%, Carpentersville, 68.4%, Elgin, 66.8%, and Mundelein, 73.3%, are faring better than the national average. Check out your community's response at 2020census.gov/en/response-rates.

The self-response period, online or by phone, is extended through Oct. 31.

Shoaib Khadri, former president of the Islamic Center of Naperville, says the mosque is offering COVID-19 support services to the larger community, including a free telehealth clinic, grocery and prescription pickup for seniors, and making masks for health care facilities and nursing homes.
Shoaib Khadri, former president of the Islamic Center of Naperville, says the mosque is offering COVID-19 support services to the larger community, including a free telehealth clinic, grocery and prescription pickup for seniors, and making masks for health care facilities and nursing homes.
COVID-19 support

The Islamic Center of Naperville is offering COVID-19 support services, including a free telehealth clinic, grocery and prescription pickup for seniors, family support and group therapy sessions with licensed counselors and psychiatrists, and making masks for health care facilities and nursing homes.

"We offer a slew of services for the entire community, not just to the Muslim community," said Shoaib Khadri, ICN former president, during a virtual panel discussion hosted by Safe DuPage on community resources available to those impacted by COVID-19.

For support services, call (630) 345-4243 or visit icnmasjid.org/covid-19.

Anti-racism initiative

The Naperville City Council will vote on Tuesday, May 19, to adopt a resolution celebrating diversity and denouncing acts of racism, intolerance and unlawful discrimination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It stemmed from residents Nancy Chen and Bill Liu, chairman of Chinese community outreach appointed by the late Mayor George Pradel, urging council members to condemn actions that unfairly stereotype and single out Asian Americans. Their concern was motivated by the reported March 21 attack on a 60-year-old Chinese American man jogging on a Naperville trail and offensive remarks made by a speaker during the April 7 virtual council meeting.

"The resolution demonstrates to our residents that racism and discrimination are not to be tolerated in our city," said Chen, a resident for 48 years. "It demonstrates, too, that Asian Americans don't have to be just victims of discrimination but can speak up to change things."

A virtual Eid

As suburban mosques remain dormant due to Illinois' ban on mass gatherings, many Muslims will be celebrating Eid virtually this year.

Eid al-Fitr, on Sunday, May 24, marks the culmination of the monthlong observance of dawn-to-dusk fasting for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Stand-up comedian Azhar Usman, formerly of Des Plaines, will be hosting a virtual Eid show on Sunday, May 24, organized by the Zakat Foundation of America.
Stand-up comedian Azhar Usman, formerly of Des Plaines, will be hosting a virtual Eid show on Sunday, May 24, organized by the Zakat Foundation of America. - Courtesy of Azhar Usman

The Zakat Foundation of America in Bridgeview will be hosting a free, family-friendly virtual Eid-in-Place show at 4 p.m. featuring Muslim comedy, music, poetry, and other art forms.

The lineup includes prominent American Muslim scholar Imam Zaid Shakir, hip-hop artist and speaker Brother Ali, stand-up comedian, actress and writer Zainab Johnson, poet and actor/screenwriter Amir Sulaiman, Pearls of Islam Caribbean fusion music singing duo Sakinah Lenoir and Rabiah Abdullah, and British stand-up comedian and writer Shazia Mirza.

Azhar Usman, the show's producer and stand-up comedian, formerly of Des Plaines, is co-hosting the event with stand-up comedian Danish Maqbool, and actor and comedian Paul Elia, known for his roles on the "Conan" show, Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Lady Dynamite."

To register for the Facebook Live show, visit eidinplace.eventbrite.com.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic with Madhu Krishnamurthy at mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com.

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