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Help Protect Pregnant Black Women On South, West Sides Through New Masks For Moms Initiative

Black Girls Break Bread and UIC is looking for volunteers to help keep pregnant women safe with masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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CHICAGO — Black Chicagoans have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus in the state, and pregnant women are at even more risk.

The Masks for Moms initiative led by Black Girls Break Bread aims to protect Black moms-to-be during the pandemic by collecting and distributing CDC-approved handmade masks.

Black women face much higher risks associated with childbirth than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black women die of pregnancy-related causes at a rate about three times higher than those of white women.

Jessica Davenport-Williams, co-Founder Black Girls Break Bread, said the initiative is aimed to ensure pregnant women have access to masks for doctors visits and for when they go into delivery.

“We know pregnant people are contracting the coronavirus and testing positive for COVID-19 when arriving to the hospital for delivery, most times unmasked and unknowing to the expectant mom,” Davenport-Williams said. “As a pregnant person, you don’t have the ability to reschedule….like people are doing with surgery, you don’t have that option.”

The group is partnering with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health and other health networks to gather supplies and spread the word.

The campaign is seeking volunteers to help make CDC-approved masks for when expectant mothers are going to a doctor’s appointment or running errands.

“With alarming statistics showing Black people contracting and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates in Austin, Auburn Gresham and South Shore within Chicago and the south suburbs of Cook County, it is why our coalition is intentional about distributing masks to these communities for pregnant people,” Davenport-Williams said.

The network of groups is partnering with local health centers on the South and West Sides including Christian Community Health Center on the South Side, Access Madison Family Health Centers on the West Side and PrimeCare Community Health on the North Side. 

They are also working with Access Blue Island Family Health Center and Family Christian Health Center in the South Suburbs and the City of Evanston.

“We all know stress is associated to adverse pregnancy outcomes, not just for moms but also for the infants,” said Arden Handler, director of the UIC Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health

The targeted initiative is looking to help expectant mothers “to reduce stress during a vulnerable time,” she added. “We want them to know there are people out there thinking of them.”

Individuals looking to volunteer to make mask or help with collection and delivery and sign up here.

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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