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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

With City’s Largest Coronavirus Cluster Now On South Side, Aldermen Beg Residents To Stay Home

Auburn Gresham's 60620 zip code now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases of any Chicago zip code, with 359.

Ald. Derrick Curtis (left) talks to the media at a joint COVID-19 press conference with Alds. Howard Brookins (right) and David Moore (not pictured).
Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chicago

ENGLEWOOD — With their communities seeing the highest number of coronavirus cases in the city, South Side aldermen are banding together to implore residents to stay home as the city continues to shelter in place until at least April 30.

Alds. David Moore (17th), Derrick Curtis (18th) and Howard Brookins (21st) gathered at the Chicago Police’s Gresham (6th) District on Friday to voice their frustration with those refusing to follow social distancing guidelines.

Auburn Gresham’s 60620 zip code now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases of any Chicago zip code, with 359 cases, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Neighboring communities to the south and east also have high numbers, with the 60619 zip code at 306 cases and 60628 at 288.

The aldermen gathered several days after Chicago police cracked down on violators congregating in public spaces.

“We don’t want to arrest ourselves out of this. First responders are already putting their lives on the line and when people don’t listen we have to use more resources that could’ve gone elsewhere,” said Moore, who added that he’s been giving gloves and masks to everyone he sees, including gang members.

“Their lives matter, too. We want to prevent them from spreading this to their grandmothers. They may not care about themselves, but I’m sure they don’t want to hurt grandma.”

Officials have pointed to a wide range of reasons for the high number of cases in African-American communities, from historic disinvestment that’s led to wide health care disparities for generations to higher numbers of residents working essential jobs that don’t allow for working from home.

“We don’t have time to argue or debate,” said Brookins, who had the Chicago Park District remove all the basketball rims from courts in his ward earlier in the week. “Resources are low. If everyone gets sick, no one will be able to get care. My family is in the funeral business. We don’t need any more business.”

While disobedience may have contributed to the high number of cases, the bigger factor is community disinvestment, said Moore.

“We told CVS, we told Save A Lot that we needed these stores to stay open. Now you’ve got people packing into Walmart to get groceries. Lack of resources cause people to crowd,” he added.

In the meantime, people must do what they can to stay safe and healthy, said Moore, commending the 6th District for its work during the pandemic.

Brookins told Block Club the Christian Community Health Center is working to open a testing site at its 97th and Halsted location.

Governor JB Pritzker announced Friday that two more South Side testing sites would be available for those uninsured or underinsured this week: Chicago Family Health Center and the Friend Health Center.

An additional state-run clinic will open in the Markham/Harvey area next week.

Seniors in the 18th Ward in need of personal protective equipment can call the ward office, 773-284-5057 to request a delivery.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
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